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US to hand over ‘problem-list’ in the hope to avoid trade war with India

NEW DELHI: The Trump administration will share a list of its trade issues with India next week, as the two sides seek to iron out their differences over bilateral trade that have arisen from tit-for-tat tariff actions in the last few months. This was agreed at a new round of talks between the two countries in Washington, an official said. “All issues were discussed.

They were talking of general things, we wanted specific. They will send us a text of what they want, in the next week or ten days,” the official told ET.

While preferential benefits to Indian exports under US Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) and America’s higher tariffs on steel and aluminium were discussed at the talks, the US officials were also curious about the concessions that China has offered India under the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement.

Last month, China had said it would reduce or cancel tariffs on imports of 8,549 types of goods from India, South Korea, Bangladesh, Laos and Sri Lanka. The goods include chemicals, agricultural and medical products, soybean, clothing, and steel and aluminium products.

India and US will now take the discussions forward through emails and video conferencing with low likelihood of officials traveling to each other’s countries, the official said.

This was the first round of talks after senior officials from the US Trade Representative met Indian officials in Delhi for three days late last month.

The two countries are keen to resolve the issues before Indian retaliatory tariffs worth $235 million on 29 American products, in response to the US’ decision to raise import duties on Indian steel and aluminium, come into effect on August 4.

India has also demanded market access in agriculture, automobiles, auto components and engineering goods, and pressed for resumption of duty cuts for $5.6-billion worth of goods under the US GSP.

India’s exports to the US in 2017-18 were $47.9 billion, while imports stood at $26.7 billion. The two countries haven’t fixed a target to reduce the trade deficit under the two track approach to decide their trade issues. The first is to resolve immediate concerns in the short-to-medium term and the other pertains to expanding bilateral trade in the long run.

Washington has challenged India’s export subsidies and tariffs and is opposed to a Reserve Bank ruling on data localisation to ensure firms operating in India to move their servers to India. The two sides also discussed the issue of oil, but not in the context of Iran, the official said.

Earlier this week, a delegation from the US met external affairs ministry officials here to discuss US demands for India to zero out its oil imports from Iran.
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