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Going to Talk With US Counterpart in Next Few Days on Proposed Trade Deal: Piyush Goyal

File photo of Union Minister Piyush Goyal.

File photo of Union Minister Piyush Goyal.

India and the US are negotiating a trade deal to iron out differences and promote two-way commerce.

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday he will be talking to USTR Robert Lighthizer in the next few days to "quickly wrap" up initial aspects of the proposed trade deal, which is under negotiations.

India and the US are negotiating a trade deal to iron out differences and promote two-way commerce.

The minister said that he is in regular dialogue with US Trade Representative (USTR) and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

"I think Mr Wilbur Ross and I will be meeting with businessmen of both the countries sometime in the middle of July and going to be talking to my US counterpart also in the next few days... to quickly wrap the first immediate aspects of the trade deal that is already in discussion and look forward towards a more detailed, exhaustive and all encompassing trade agreement between India and the US," he said in a webinar.

These things would help both the countries to expand trade and investment relations, he said.

India is demanding exemption from high duties imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminium products, resumption of export benefits to certain domestic products under their Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), and greater market access for its products from sectors like agriculture, automobile, auto components and engineering.

On the other hand, the US wants greater market access for its farm and manufacturing products, dairy items and medical devices, data localisation, and cut on import duties on some information and communication technology (ICT) products.

Goyal said that India offers 1.3 billion market and skilled manpower to the US.

The skilled manpower is well-educated and fits into the needs of the US businesses whether it is working from home in India or working in the US to support American firms, he added.

The statement assumes significance as US President Donald Trump this week temporarily suspended entry of foreign workers such as IT professionals into the US.

He also advocated for ensuring that markets of both the countries are available to all friendly countries and nations which gives equal access to Indian products.

Further the minister said that in areas like solar PV, lithium storage batteries, mobile, auto components, and ACs, India can engage with the US and expand trade and business so that it can not have to overtly dependent on only one geography.

"We have to diversify to cut over dependence on certain geographies for a number of products such as electronics, auto components and move away to newer suppliers particularly countries like the US, Europe, Latin America, South East Asia and other friendly nations.

Goyal said that India is exploring ways to consider opening of export for PPEs (personal protection equipment) to other parts of the world to support fight against Covid-19.

Export communities like Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) Chairman A Sakthivel is demanding lifting of export ban on PPE as domestic production has increased substantially and already meeting domestic demand.

The minister said that on one phone call from US President Trump, India immediately provided medicines to the US and then to 150 countries in the last two months.

In 2018-19, India's exports to the US stood at USD 52.4 billion, while imports were USD 35.5 billion. Trade deficit dipped from USD 21.3 billion in 2017-18 to USD 16.9 billion in 2018-19.

India received FDI of USD 3.13 billion from the US in 2018-19, higher than USD 2 billion in 2017-18.