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Piyush Goyal to visit US for trade talks next week

Immediate issues that need attention are likely to be discussed during the visit in the run up to a larger trade deal, sources said. While India and the US have ruled out any structural reason or major issue holding back a bilateral trade deal, th...

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 06, 2019, 11.32 PM IST
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Piyush Goyal (File Pic)
NEW DELHI: Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal is likely to travel to the US early next week as the two sides work towards resolving their bilateral trade issues. Goyal’s visit comes close at the heels of India opting out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement as of now. India has already said that it is exploring free trade agreements with the US and the European Union.

Sources said the visit to Washington is being planned for November 11-12, the second such visit in the last two months.

Immediate issues that need attention are likely to be discussed during the visit in the run up to a larger trade deal, sources said.

While India and the US have ruled out any structural reason or major issue holding back a bilateral trade deal, the two have been embroiled in a series of trade spats, both bilaterally and at the World Trade Organization.

Restoration of Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), price controls on medical devices, duty cuts on Harley Davidson bikes and market access to American agricultural commodities including almonds, nuts and berries have been on the agenda of the limited scope trade deal that the two have been discussing. “There are certain immediate issues and GSP is one of them,” said one source aware of the details.

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The US terminated India's designation as a beneficiary developing country for the preferential benefits under GSP to Indian exports effective June 5 after determining that it has not assured of providing "equitable and reasonable access to its markets”. A trade package was expected to be announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with US President Donald Trump in September.

However, the larger trade deal negotiations could encompass a plethora of issues including tariff elimination on ICT goods for which New Delhi had considered fixing a threshold price, beyond which it can levy customs duty on mobile phones, smart watches and telecom network equipment. Separately, the office of the US Trade Representatives (USTR) has also sought data-related relaxations, including those in India’s ecommerce policy.

Goyal recently told ET that protecting the farming community and religious sensitivities while importing products having animal feed in their food chain are the red lines in India’s trade negotiations with the US. However, he also said that there are always certain issues where one takes extra precautions and ensures that it doesn’t affect the Indian ecosystem but usually in a trade deal, there are no complete no-no’s.

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