USTR Catherine Tai Visit India: Trade Policy Forum, Indo-Pacific

USTR Catherine Tai Visit India: Trade Policy Forum, Indo-Pacific

US Trade Representative (USTR) Catherine Tai (pictured), along with her deputy Sarah Bianchi, are to arrive in the national capital on Monday to discuss issues related to market access, including tariffs, by restructuring India-US trade. Policy Forum (TPF).

Established in 2005, the last India-US TPF meeting was in October 2017. After this a trade deal was negotiated between the two sides.

With the Biden administration now emphasizing on solving troubles first rather than a small deal, the focus has re-emerged on the TPF.

People with knowledge of the matter said that discussions can also take place to promote the common interests of the two countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Since the US government has made it clear that a (mini) trade agreement with India will not be possible, at least for now, another focus area will be on the Indo-Pacific region to address market access issues and matters. Chances are,” one of the persons cited above, said.

“A major breakthrough (for now) on any trade related issue between India and the US is difficult without any investment deal between the two countries. There can also be hope of an investment deal (from the US side) being finalised,” said the person.

Tai will meet Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday. This is also his first visit to India since taking over in March.

The US is the largest destination for India’s exports, although its outbound shipments have been much lower than that of China.

While India exported $29.75 billion to the US, China received only $16.42 billion from India during the first five months of the current fiscal.

However, when it comes to exports to India, the US’s share was much lower at $16.42 billion compared to China’s $34.15 billion during the period.

The US was India’s largest trading partner during April-August 2021-22, slightly larger than China. But in some years China was the largest trading partner, for example during 2020-21 and 2017-18. The US has been raising the issue of market constraints in India including high tariffs. New Delhi has also been raising this matter against Washington.

The US also believes that the Indian regulatory regime is “non-transparent and unpredictable”. According to the International Trade Agency of the US Department of Commerce, US exporters and investors face non-transparent and often unpredictable regulatory and tariff regimes. This is because some goods and services have limited access to the Indian market.

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