- The U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF) has been scheduled for November 8 in Washington DC, The Hindu has confirmed. U.S. trade officials are arriving in New Delhi next week to finalise issues for discussion.
- A few weeks ahead of this meeting, it appears that that the gains are most likely going to be modest and incremental in the immediate future, given the structural differences in both economies and political considerations in India and the U.S. — both of which have general elections in 2024.
- The 12th TPF was held in New Delhi in November 2021, after a hiatus of four years, delivering some gains over the past twelve months, such as the resumption of sales of Indian mangoes and pomegranate arils to the U.S. following the pandemic, and the appearance of U.S. cherries on the Indian market.
- Officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Christopher Wilson and Brendan Lynch, were in New Delhi in August – but the visit was not formally billed an ‘intercessional’.
- On the Indian side, the requests are concentrated in the services sector, while for the U.S. side goods market access and the policy environment – such as data laws and now the imminent changes to India’s competition law- are of interest.
- A mismatch between bilateral ambition and sensitivity has been an issue at times.
- The U.S.’s ambitions are commensurate with what you would expect for a highly developed economy.
- He was referring to the U.S. interest in negotiating on agricultural and non-agricultural market access, digital trade, competition and so forth.
- We are a developing economy and have a number of sensitivities, to protect agriculture, given the large low-income rural population that is dependent on it. These needs need to be respected and factored in.
- For India, many of the historical requests on services are met with responses from USTR that point to other wings of U.S. government, such as the Congress, or to other agencies and departments, having ownership of the issue.
- For the U.S. side, offering one to one market access for goods has been difficult.
- “India has great access to the U.S. market,” a U.S. Government (USG) official told The Hindu, pointing to the lower tariffs in the US market.
- Going into this year’s TPF , they are looking at “a number of products” in the agricultural space as “win wins”.
U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum
- Among these, for the Americans, is the resolution of exports of alfalfa hay to India – an issue that is pending from last year’s TPF
- The U.S. is also keen to supplement India’s ethanol and DDGS ( an animal feed product) production, with its supplies, in light of India’s blending goals under the 2022 National Biofuels Policy.
India’s requests have included
- high skilled worker visa numbers, fees, and recently, visa processing times;
- social security portability across countries;
- and 232 tariffs (i.e., tariffs imposed during the Trump administration on steel and aluminium)
- the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP),
a preferential market access program offered by the U.S. to some developing countries.
SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB