Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu on Thursday made a strong case for conclusion of the ongoing trade negotiations which would become the first phase of a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement between the two nations. Bilateral trade between India and the US, which touched USD 150 billion last year, has dropped 25 per cent in the first half of this year, he said at webinar organised by industry body Ficci.
Sandhu observed that India's bilateral trade has been growing at the rate of 10 per cent on a year-to-year basis, reaching USD 150 billion in 2019. "Our bilateral trade has not been immune to COVID-19 as total trade between the two countries has reduced by nearly 25 per cent in the first half of 2020 as compared to 2019," he said.
The US is today India's biggest trading partner, but the real potential of the trade relationship is yet to be reached, he added. The Indian Ambassador to the US said the "first step in realising this potential is to conclude the ongoing trade negotiations which would become the phase 1 of a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement."
Such an agreement would reflect the full potential of bilateral and commercial relations, increasing bilateral investments and job creation in both the countries, he emphasised. India and the US are negotiating a limited trade deal with a view to iron out differences on trade issues to boost economic ties.
India is demanding exemption from high duties imposed by the US on some steel and aluminium products, resumption of export benefits to certain domestic items under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), and greater market access for its products from sectors such as agriculture, automobile, automobile components and engineering. On the other hand, the US wants greater market access for its farm and manufacturing products, dairy items and medical devices, apart from cut in import duties on some information and communication technology products. The US has also raised concerns over high trade deficit with India.