US Trade Talks to Restart Friday With Little Sign of Compromise

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The USTR has earlier pointed out in a reported that the data localisation requirements in India would serve as significant barriers to digital trade between the two countries and should be removed.

The statement added that the meeting was "aimed at providing a new impetus to bilateral trade and commercial ties, in line with the mandate" given by PM Modi and US President Trump during the bilateral at Osaka.

A delegation led by assistant U.S. trade representative (AUSTR) for South and Central Asia, Christopher Wilson, will meet Indian officials to try to re-start negotiations on tit-for-tat tariffs that were put on hold because of India's election. While collaboration on 5G is not on the agenda but officials do not rule out a discussion on the issue.

India on Thursday said that it seeks very constructive and positive engagement with the USA counterparts.

"We are looking forward to a constructive engagement", Kumar said.

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The United States would seek a rollback of some of those tariffs, and India would in return seek better access to the USA market for Indian farm products, said the Indian official who is aware of the agenda for discussions. "It is important to keep in mind that when we engage on this issue, the trajectory of the relationship remains positive. AUSTR Wilson and the Deputy Assistant USTR Brendan Lynch are in New Delhi on July 11-12", according to a USTR spokesperson. The US-India Strategic Partnership Forum has predicted trade will go up to $238bn by 2025. The US wants greater market access for its dairy products and cut in customs duties in information and communications technology products. The move came on the back of higher U.S. tariffs on Indian steel and aluminium. India imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 USA products to the tune of $200 million after postponing them nine times. The US would urge India to ease restrictions on ecommerce and data localisation norms which impact American companies like MasterCard and Walmart.

For India, the priority would be to seek exemptions from USA import duty of 25 percent and 10 percent on steel and aluminium respectively. The delegation is also likely to meet top officials at the IT ministry. Energy imports from Iran and defence imports from Russian Federation are also likely to figure in the discussions.

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.

Numerous toughest questions on agricultural commodities, e-commerce, and steel and aluminum, have been put off until Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal goes to Washington for talks with United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer next month.

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