DELHI: Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu is expected to discuss
trade, visa and investment issues with his US counterpart when he travels to
Washington DC this week for an interaction with the Trump administration.
Officials in the know said an informal discussion on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is also likely in which India will seek support for its agenda. The meeting will also discuss the US president’s daughter and White House advisor Ivanka Trump’s upcoming India visit.
the new US administration, the decade-old strategic and commercial dialogue has
been split. It was decided a few months ago that India and the US will hold 2+2
(foreign minister- and defence minister-level) strategic dialogues.
also decided to revert to a standalone commerce minister dialogue, and Prabhu's
visit is aimed at that. Prabhu’s US visit coincides with US Secretary of State
Rex Tillerson's trip to India to discuss USSouth Asia strategy, highlighting
India’s importance in Washington's policy for the region.
trade policy forum, the commerce minister will raise the issue of high fee for
H-1B visa and the need for totalisation agreement between the two countries.
The agreement will allow temporary Indian workers in the US to repatriate their
social security contributions when they leave the country. Former commerce
minister Nirmala Sitharaman too had pushed for an agreement on this.
will attend the India-US Trade Policy Forum and the third commercial dialogue
from October 25 to 27, when he is expected to discuss a host of issues with
Ambassador Robert E Lighthizer and his team. Prabhu will also hold talks with
US secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross on facilitating investment.
trade between India and US tops $100 billion, with the latter accounting for
over 15% of India’s exports. In the first four months of the current fiscal,
India exported goods worth more than $15 billion to the US. For the full year
2016-17, it was over $42 billion.
he agenda for the trade policy forum would include early
resolution of market access for agriculture commodities, trade in non-agri
commodities, services and intellectual property. Under the commercial dialogue
cooperation and collaboration in standards, ease of doing business, innovation
and entrepreneurship would be taken up. “The focus will be on increased
bilateral interaction and momentum in resolving trade concerns…Both sides will
review the progress achieved on the issues agreed and work out the way forward
for 2018,” a senior official said.
Prabhu will also visit Cuba and Panama and meet their
commerce ministers, besides interacting with the trade ministers of Suriname,
Barbados, Dominican Republic and Haiti. India will explore whether “revolving
credit lines could be an innovative way of boosting bilateral trade with these
countries", an official said, adding that India will also discuss the
possibility of an India-Carricom FTA to provide market access to products
including agriculture items which pose no competition to India’s domestic
agriculture sector. “Carricom also has market access to the USA through
preferential trade arrangement.
we would have another opening to the US market through the Caribbean,” the
official said. Prabhu is also likely to meet Raul Castro, President of Cuba, to
discuss ways of boosting bilateral trade, which has been modest so far, partly
due to the distance and lack of effective shipping connections.
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