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Building on Wilbur Ross's recent visit, USTR delegation may meet Commerce Ministry officials next week

"Continuing the ongoing process of discussions and talks, USTR officials are expected to come down next week to take forward the talks held last week," a senior government official told Moneycontrol.

May 27, 2019 / 04:04 PM IST

Representatives from the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) are expected to meet India's Commerce Ministry officials next week to take stock of the progress made on the discussion held earlier this month with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

"Continuing the ongoing process of discussions and talks, USTR officials are expected to come down next week to take forward the talks held last week," a senior government official told Moneycontrol.

Ross met Commerce and Industry minister Suresh Prabhu on May 6 to discuss issues on trade disagreements. India and the US are engaged in talks to iron out thorny issues that have dogged trade relations between the two countries.

"We might discuss resolving the dispute settlement crisis, apart from other trade-related issues where there are logjams," the official said.

The officials from the office of the USTR might also discuss the issue of special and differential treatment with Indian officials, who have made it clear that special and differential treatment are not only an unconditional right but also a principal and modality to help developing countries, the official said.

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"If the issue of special and differential treatment comes up, we will stick to our stand," he said.

India and the US have been engaged in a simmering trade conflict after the USTR's office notified the US Congress and New Delhi in March that Indian exports did not qualify for the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) - a preferential trade scheme - benefits under their updated eligibility criteria.

The US believes that exports at zero or very low duties under the GSP is hurting the US. GSP allows market access to about 3,500 products to the US. In April 2018, the Trump administration had said it was reviewing the GSP eligibility of India, Indonesia and Kazakhstan.

Apart from special and preferential treatment, in his meeting with Ross, Prabhu had discussed issues like India's draft e-commerce policy, data localisation, high import duties imposed by America on steel and aluminium.

The Donald Trump administration has also repeatedly said that it wants lowering of duties on several products, including Harley Davidson motorbikes.
Kamalika Ghosh
first published: May 27, 2019 04:04 pm

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