India, US officials to meet soon to discuss concerns of both sides: Prabhu

New Delhi, Jun 15 (PTI) Senior officials of India and the US will soon meet to address concerns of both the sides, including issues related with visa, continuation of certain concession for exports, duty on steel and aluminium, and prices of certain medical devices.

Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu, who was in Washington earlier this week, said he held discussions with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to find out ways to enhance trade and investments between the two countries.

He said the meeting was significantly important in the backdrop of the fact that the US was not even ready to talk on trade related issues with its close trading partners like Canada.

“On the day of (my) visit, US President Donald Trump made a statement about G7… In that backdrop the meeting took place. Meeting with the USTR went very well. We made substantive progress on trade and investment issues.

“(Now) officers’ meeting will take place very soon to discuss all pending issues. We have agreed to work on resolution of various issues and address the concerns of either side,” Prabhu told reporters here.

He said the meeting of the officers might take place by the end of this month.

India has time and again raised concerns over negative impact of tightening of visa norms by the US on Indian IT sector. It has also asked America to continue extending duty free access under Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) to its products such as chemicals and engineering. India also wants exemption from the hike in import duty on certain steel and aluminium items.

On the other hand, the US has raised concerns on issues, including high duties on dairy products and motor cycle Harley-Davidson. It has also flagged issues on prices of medical devices in India.

When asked about the impact of possible US trade sanctions on Iran, Prabhu said: “UN sanctions we have to follow that but if some country imposes it, then we have to deal in a different way and that is what we are doing”.

India is one of the major importer of crude oil from Iran besides exporter of basmati rice.

On the concerns being raised by the domestic industry on presence of China in the proposed mega trade deal RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), the minister said that all these issues are raised by India from time to time.

“We have not signed any agreement,” he said, adding that RCEP will be a reality if all concerns of India are addressed.

The RCEP bloc comprises 10 ASEAN members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six FTA partners – India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

India’s trade deficit with China stands at USD 63.12 billion in 2017-18.

Source: PTI