Prabhu seeks establishment of bilateral trade dispute redressal mechanism
indica Washington Bureau
Amidst mounting trade and tariff disputes between New Delhi and Washington, a top Indian Cabinet Minister has sought establishment of a trade dispute redressal mechanism.
A delegation of Indian officials would soon be visiting Washington DC, to hold talks with the Trump Administration on a mechanism of a comprehensive negotiations with the US on issues related to bilateral trade and economy.
During an interaction with industry leaders here in the US, the India’s Commerce and Industry Minister, Suresh Prabhu emphasized the importance of a dispute redressal mechanism, and resolving issues together in a way that does not derail but rather strengthens bilateral ties.
“There is a consensus in the Trump Administration to increase trade with India,” said Prabhu, who concluded a two-days of meetings with top US officials including the US Commerce Minister, Wilbur Ross, US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer and Agriculture Secretary S Perdue.
“Trade (between India and the US) is already growing. Opportunities are immense. India is going to be a USD5 trillion (economy) in seven-eight years and may be USD10 trillion in about 15 years,” Prabhu told industry leaders at a reception hosted in his honor by US India Business Council (USIBC) in association with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry(FICCI) and Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s a great time to join hands with each other. And that’s the realization within the (Trump) Administration as well. Therefore, we have really decided to move on. As you know, we always hear the trade disputes between US and India, but when I had meeting with the USTR, with the Commerce Secretary, with Agriculture Secretary, with Senators, it is very clear that we must move on, keep the issues behind,” Prabhu said. “Therefore, we would really like to work on that,” he added.
In his interaction with industry leaders at an event organized by the US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF), Prabhu said the government expects growth to remain strong for the rest of 2018, with possible GDP growth of eight percent in 2019.
He spoke about the improvements that have been made in the trade relationship, including trade deficit reduction. “Every great partnership has areas of agreement and disagreement. I’m hopeful that the U.S. investment corridor is only going to grow, and I’m confident that we will be able to bridge our gaps,” Prabhu noted.
According to the Indian Minister, India is soon sending an official team to work out the details and initiate a comprehensive negotiation on all issues concerning trade and economic relationship between the two countries.
“The meetings were held in a friendly and cordial atmosphere, with appreciation for each other’s points of view. Discussions centered around bilateral trade and commercial relations between the two countries and focused on finding the way forward to address concerns of both sides,” the Indian Embassy said in a readout of the meetings.
“In this context, it was agreed that Indian and US officials would meet at a senior level at an early date to discuss various issues of interest to both sides and carry forward the discussions in a positive, constructive and result oriented manner,” the embassy said.
During his two-day visit to Washington DC, Prabhu addressed business and industry leaders in meetings organized by US-India Business Council (USIBC) and US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) and held meetings with other stakeholders.
The industry interaction included senior officials from leading US companies such as: Boston Scientific, FedEx, Walmart, Abbott, UTC, Honeywell, PhRMA, MoneyGram International, Lockheed Martin, Koch Industries, Amway, Uber, 21st Century Fox, and Medtronic. “It is very evident that some of the recent structural reforms put in place by this government are bearing fruit,” said USISPF president Mukesh Aghi.
The discussion with Minister Prabhu centered around the government trade agenda between now and the elections, the recently announced Ayushman Bharat health scheme, projects under the “Make in India” initiative and sector-specific questions in defense, fintech and media & entertainment, a media release said.
Noting that India and the United States have an important strategic relationship and shared goals, USIBC president Nisha Desai Biswal said that the council is a constructive partner in achieving the full potential of the US-India commercial opportunity.
“The implementation of developmental measures for growth of the industrial sector such as Digital India, Make in India, Start-Up India, Ease of Doing Business and Industrial Corridors in the country are a signal that the Government of India is proactive about attracting foreign investors; we all know the public and the private sector engagement are the engines of economic growth in both countries,” Biswal said in during another roundtable hosted for Prabhu.
“USIBC is developing several priorities areas to focus on this coming year where we can work together. These including working together and with like-minded partners like Japan to build infrastructure in the region. We also look forward to deepening our partnerships with the States both in India and the US,” she said.
The USIBC roundtable organized in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) comprised of US and Indian industry giants from the Energy, Aerospace, ICT, Life Sciences and Defense sectors who reiterated India’s position as a critical market while also raising issues facing their companies such as data localization and price controls, as well as public procurement and operational hurdles.