United States and India plan to boost trade ties in energy, defence

Vastavam web: The United States and India plan to boost bilateral trade in energy, aerospace, defence, pharmaceuticals and healthcare as part of a continuing commercial dialogue, officials from both governments said on Thursday. They have set up seven working groups of chief executives with top U.S. and Indian firms that will focus on financial trade and investments as well as bring together small and medium enterprises (SME) from the two countries.

India and the United States have developed close political and security ties. But bilateral trade, which stood at $126 billion in 2017, is widely seen to be performing at nearly a quarter of its potential. Executives participating in the discussions included Tata chairman N. Chandrasekaran and American Tower CEO James Taiclet, an Indian government statement said. U.S. and Indian officials pressed on with talks on Thursday to resolve differences over trade and investment, Indian government sources said, after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross called off his visit because of bad weather at home.

Ross addressed the forum in Delhi through teleconference after his flight was cancelled, a government statement said. Last year India announced proposals to force foreign companies to store more of their user data locally so as to make it accessible to any legal investigations. U.S. lobby groups voiced doubts, saying this made it difficult for firms to do business in India. The two governments were also discussing U.S. tariffs imposed blast year on steel and aluminium imports, he said.

Washington has also had a longstanding grievance with India over its large trade deficit with the United States and what it sees as the Indian government’s lax intellectual property enforcement. New Delhi defends the measures on e-commerce as a way to protect the interests of small businesses and says it has been cutting tariffs gradually to give local industry a level playing field and create jobs for a very large youth population.

The meeting coincides with a USTR review of India’s eligibility as a beneficiary of its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), under which the country has enjoyed zero tariffs for about 2,000 goods worth $5.6 billion exported to the United States.