India, US relaunch Trade Policy Forum

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New Delhi, Nov 23: Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Tuesday relaunched the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) and agreed to engage on issues which are affecting the trade between the two countries.

The bilateral commerce between India and the US is expected to cross USD 100 billion this year.

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Both the ministers directed the TPF Working Groups to develop, by March 2022, plans of action for making substantive progress, including identification of a set of specific trade outcomes that could be finalised for an inter-sessional TPF meeting to be held by mid-2022.

Further, both sides expressed satisfaction over the robust rebound in bilateral merchandise trade this year (January September 2021), which showed almost 50 per cent growth over the same period in the previous year.

“Bilateral merchandise trade in the current year is poised to surpass USD 100 billion mark,” an official statement said.

It said the ministers “recognised the importance of engaging in collaborative discussion on the full range of existing and emerging issues affecting our trade relationship”.

In this regard, the commerce ministry said the TPF could be the major platform for collaboration and cooperation in trade matters, resolving bilateral trade concerns and exploring important, emerging trade policy issues.

India highlighted the importance of cooperation in health sector, and expressed interest in partnering with the US and allies in developing a secure pharmaceutical manufacturing base for augmenting global supply chains.

They also discussed about participation and collaboration of the private sector in both the countries in building stronger linkages in critical sectors, including cyber space, semiconductors, AI, 5G, 6G and future generation telecommunications technology.

India and the US deliberated on facilitating greater market access for mangoes and pomegranates, pomegranate arils from India, and cherries and alfalfa hay for animal feed from the United States, the statement said.

They agreed to work to resolve market access for grapes from India and pork/ pork products from US.

“Both sides to continue engagement on exploring enhanced market access for products, including Distillers’ Dried Grains with Solubles from the US and market access for water buffalo meat and wild caught shrimp from India,” it said.

Further, India highlighted the significance of restoration of GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) benefits as it would help industries from both sides in integrating their supply chain efficiently.

“The US noted it for suitable consideration,” the statement said.

They also underlined the importance of movement of professional and skilled workers, students, investors and business travellers between both the countries as it contributes immensely to enhancing bilateral economic and technological partnership.

India and the US “agreed on the significance of negotiating a Social Security Totalisation agreement in the interest of workers from both sides,” it said.

The last meeting of the TPF was held in 2017.