India, US revive bilateral mechanism to ease trade hurdles
New Delhi, Nov 23 (EFE).- India and the United States on Tuesday revived the Trade Policy Forum, a bilateral mechanism established to resolve a long list of trade hurdles, after it had remained inactive for four years due to differences between the two sides during the administration of former US president Donald Trump.
The 12th ministerial level meeting of the TPF, the first since 2017, took place in New Delhi and was headed by Indian Trade and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
The TPF was held to make progress towards the objective announced on by US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister in a joint statement on Sep. 24: ” to develop an ambitious, shared vision for the future of the trade relationship.”
Washington and New Delhi’s push to revive the mechanism, which was suspended due to a series of complaints and criticism by Trump over India’s protectionist policies, signifies an attempt by the two sides to rectify a series of bottlenecks that have been obstructing bilateral trade.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the representatives, “recognized the importance of engaging in collaborative discussion on the full range of existing and emerging issues affecting our trade relationship,” according to the statement.
Despite their attempts to establish a powerful alliance to counter China’s expanding influence, over the last four years bilateral ties between India and the US were overshadowed by a conflict in trade policies.
The standoff began in 2017 after Washington raised tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from India, which led to New Delhi slapping retaliatory tariffs on US products.
It was further aggravated when Washington decided to end the agreement to grant the Generalized System of Preferences, which waived off duties on some Indian products.
The GSP allowed Indian producers duty-free access to the US market in specific categories.
The measure was enacted soon after Trump announced his intention to cancel India’s GSP status in the US Congress, arguing that New Delhi had been unable to ensure equitable and reasonable access to its market in various sectors.
India responded by reciprocally increasing taxes on around 30 articles imported from the US.
The TPF seeks to resolve trade hurdles in four areas: agriculture, investment, intellectual property rights and tariff and non-tariff services.
According to the TPF statement, bilateral trade during the current year has showed a growth of nearly 50 percent compared to the same period last year, exceeding the $100 billion mark. EFE