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India-US officials sit down to resolve trade differences

India-US officials sit down to resolve trade differences

New Delhi:  India and the US on Friday held official talks to resolve their trade differences, with both sides keen to tackle all issues on the table in a constructive manner.

The US delegation, led by Assistant US Trade Representative for South and Central Asia Christopher Wilson and Deputy Assistant Brendan Lynch, on Thursday held informal talks with Indian officials. 

The Indian side - comprising officers from both the External Affairs and Commerce Ministries - was led by an Additional Secretary level officer from the Ministry of Commerce.

The meeting comes as a follow-up to the meeting in Osaka, Japan, last month between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump where both the sides agreed to resolve all issues including trade and 5G.

"Our approach is to engage with them very constructively in a very positive manner," said External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Thursday

"It is important to keep in mind when we engage on this issue that the trajectory of the relationship remains positive. And we have to keep in mind the bigger picture, and within that big picture we have to address all the issues."

India has imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products, including almonds and apples, from June as a counter to the increase in steel and aluminium tariffs announced by the US and the withdrawal of duty-free benefits to Indian exporters.

The meeting between trade officials from both sides comes as the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), a US-based India centric advocacy group, said that bilateral trade between India and the US could reach $238 billion by 2025 from the current $143 billion given the present dynamics of the commercial engagement.

It said that growth will occur if trade grows by 7.5 per cent each year, as has been the trend for the last seven years.

The USISPF's "US India Bilateral Trade Report" estimate also projects that, by 2025, bilateral trade could range between $283 billion to $327 billion, at an annual average growth rate of 10 per cent-12.5 per cent (as witnessed in 2017 and 2018).

Sectors such as defence trade, commercial aircrafts, oil and LNG, coal, machinery and electronics are areas of potential growth in US investments and commerce into India.

Similarly, Indian industry has an opportunity to promote the automotive, pharmaceuticals, seafood, IT and travel services to the US market, it said.

The assessment was launched at USISPF's second annual leadership summit, amid overwhelming bipartisan support for US-India ties. 

US Cabinet officials in attendance include Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives; Rick Perry, US Secretary of Energy; Wilbur Ross, US Commerce Secretary; Jeffrey Gerrish, Deputy US Trade Representative for Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Industrial Competitiveness; US Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK); and India's Ambassador to the US, Harsh Shringla.

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