India, US agree to resolve outstanding trade issues.

India and the US on Thursday agreed to work “constructively” to resolve outstanding trade issues and take a “comprehensive” look at ways to expand the relationship.

In their first interaction after President Joe Biden took office, Indian minister of commerce and industry Piyush Goyal spoke to his counterpart US trade representative Katherine Tai.

There was no explicit reference to a trade agreement in the readout of their conversation issued by the office of the US trade representative (USTR). It was not clear, thus, if the two sides intend to pick up from where the Trump administration had left off or they will start afresh, as Goyal suggested some weeks ago.

The two officials agreed to “revitalise” engagement through the US-India Trade Policy Forum, the USTR said referring to the key platform for trade talks between the two countries.

They also decided to “to work constructively to resolve key outstanding bilateral trade issues and to take a comprehensive look at ways to expand the trade relationship”.

The Indian side had said the Trump administration resorted to “nitpicking” in the trade talks and constantly changed their goalposts, which eventually denied them a deal, even a “mini deal” or an “interim deal”.

Goyal has called for a “fresh package” for talks.

Tai raised the importance of cooperation on a broad set of issues, including digital trade, intellectual property, agriculture, labour, and climate and the environment, the USTR said, listing out major US issues, some of whom have defied resolution across administrations in India and the US and some new and emerging areas of dissonance.

There was no mention in the USTR readout to the Indian demand for restoring its special trading privileges under a US trade programme called the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which were terminated by the Trump administration to force India to concede key US demands.

Source- Hindustan Times.

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