Indian and U.S. trade negotiators to restart with little sign of compromise

Vastavam web: Indian and U.S. trade negotiators will meet on Friday, with little sign of a compromise on a series of protectionist measures taken by the two governments in recent months that have strained ties between the strategic partners. U.S. President Donald Trump has been putting pressure on India to do more to open its markets, saying this week again on Twitter its high tariffs were “unacceptable”.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, re-elected in May, has been pushing nationalist policies with higher tariffs on everything from electronic goods to tighter controls on foreign firms in the fast growing e-commerce market to help foster domestic companies and create jobs for millions of youth. “Since India’s election period has now passed, USTR officials are visiting India for relationship-building with Indian government counterparts,” a USTR spokesperson said.

The USTR delegation is likely to meet Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal along with key trade officials on Friday. The delegation is also likely to meet top officials at the IT ministry. Trump and Modi met in Osaka on the sidelines of a G20 summit in June where they agreed to build ties and sort out thorny trade issues.

Washington is also expected to seek revisions to foreign investment rules for the e-commerce sector that have forced companies such as Walmart Inc’s Flipkart and Amazon.com Inc to rework their business strategies in the country. “The meeting with USTR was meant to set the tone for further talks after a positive G20 discussion. But Trump’s tweet has shown their intention is to continue with a tough stance,” another official said.

“We are looking forward to a constructive engagement,” Kumar said. One concern among Indian policymakers is that the Trump administration may push for a free trade agreement with India that could dent India’s competitiveness, lead to a flurry of imports and hurt Modi’s “Make in India” plan.