By: Radhakrishna NS
THE US is “working hard” with the Indian government to provide the country with opportunities to grow its economy as part of the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said.
Trade tensions between India and the US have been rising with president Donald Trump complaining that tariffs imposed by New Delhi on American products were “no longer acceptable”.
In June, the US terminated India’s designation as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme.
India imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products including almonds and apples from June 5, after the Trump administration revoked its preferential trade privileges.
The GSP is the largest and oldest US trade preference programme and is designed to promote economic development by allowing duty-free entry for thousands of products from designated beneficiary countries.
Pompeo’s remarks came weeks after a team led by Assistant US Trade Representative (AUSTR) for South and Central Asia, Christopher Wilson, held talks with senior Indian officials in New Delhi this month on a wide range of bilateral trade issues, in particular on tax and tariffs.
“Our Indo-Pacific strategy is well on its way to bearing fruit for not only them but for the United States, and we have watched these coalitions build-out. We’re working hard with the Indian government to provide them with opportunities to grow their economy as well,” Pompeo told reporters accompanying him on a tour to the Indo-Pacific region.
The US is also seeking greater market access for its dairy products and cut in customs duties in information and communications technology products. The American companies have also raised concerns over price cap on certain medical devices by India.
Stating that the US has taken a unilateral position in rolling back export incentives from India, the Indian government has asserted that it would not allow trade negotiations to overtake issues of national interest.
Meanwhile, India’s Ambassador to the US, Harsh Vardhan Shringla said that trade between the two countries has grown to $142 billion in 2018, and is expected to reach $238bn by 2025.
The next stage of growth will be driven by the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in both the countries, he said in Colorado.
Specifically, the growth of SMEs in the digital marketplace presents an ideal opportunity for increased India-US cooperation, he added.