Indian, US officials in crunch talks to break trade tariffs deadlock

U.S. Ambassador to India Kenneth I. Juster (2R) talks with United States Trade Representative (USTR) Assistant for South and Central Asia Christopher Wilson (R) and Deputy Assistant USTR for South and Central Asia Brendan Lynch (2L) prior to a meeting at the Parliament house in New Delhi on July 12, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 13 July 2019

Indian, US officials in crunch talks to break trade tariffs deadlock

NEW DELHI: Indian and American trade negotiators on Friday were meeting in New Delhi in a bid to break the logjam over strained commercial relations between the two countries.
Christopher Wilson, assistant US Trade Representative (USTR) for South and Central Asia, headed the American delegation for crunch talks with Indian officials aimed at easing tensions following a recent series of tit-for-tat protectionist measures taken by each nation.
The US negotiators also held discussions with Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal to find a way out of the trade deadlock that has raised economic tensions between the two largest democracies in the world.
“Since India’s election period has now passed, USTR officials are visiting India for relationship-building with Indian government counterparts,” a USTR spokesperson said prior to the meeting in the Indian capital.
Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said on Thursday that New Delhi was looking to resolve trade issues, many of which were discussed during the recent G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
“We are looking forward to a constructive engagement,” Kumar said.
US President Donald Trump has been steadily applying pressure on India to relax its tariff regime and allow easier access for American goods and trade to India.
However, the government of Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, who got a renewed mandate recently after being elected for a second term in office, has been pushing higher tariffs on a range of products coming from the US and tightening controls on foreign firms trying to expand in the Indian market.
Analysts believe that New Delhi is wary of Washington’s drive for a free trade agreement which it fears might impact its “Make in India” plan.
Last month the leaders of both the countries met in Osaka and agreed to sort out their differences but Trump’s recent tweeting on the issue has only served to further inflame the situation. On July 9, the president said: “India has long had a field day putting tariffs on American products. No longer acceptable.”
Pranay Kotasthane of the Takshashila Institution, a Bangalore-based think tank, said: “The current differences on the trade question can be easily resolved but Trump’s attitude isn’t helping.
“Notwithstanding Trump’s bluster, it’s in India’s interests to lower import duties. It would be beneficial as the path to ‘Make in India’ lies through buying from and selling to outside India.”
Kotasthane told Arab News: “This round of trade talks will help get us to a better position than we are currently in. There is scope for a few gives and takes in order to bring the tensions down on the trade front.
“Currently exports are a really small contributor to India’s growth story. We need to change that. Trade should become a ticket to prosperity for more Indians.”


Macron and Merkel try to showcase EU unity as Brexit looms

Updated 2 min 41 sec ago

Macron and Merkel try to showcase EU unity as Brexit looms

  • The leaders on Wednesday will first visit Airbus headquarters, as a symbol of European industrial cooperation
  • The French and German delegations, including key ministers from both governments, will discuss global trade tensions
TOULOUSE: French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are meeting in southern France, one day before a key EU summit that may approve a divorce deal with Britain.

The leaders on Wednesday will first visit Airbus headquarters, as a symbol of European industrial cooperation, before holding bilateral talks and a French-German Cabinet meeting in the city of Toulouse.

Macron and Merkel will discuss Brexit as EU and British officials scramble to make a deal before Thursday’s summit in Brussels — the last before the U.K’s scheduled departure from the EU on Oct. 31.

The French and German delegations, including key ministers from both governments, will also discuss global trade tensions, the fight against climate change, European defense projects and how to defend EU copyright rules, Macron’s office said.