Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said the negotiations between India and the US on a trade deal are going in “full speed” and expressed hope that an agreement will be structured soon.
The ongoing trade deal negotiations briefly came up for discussion during a pull aside between Sitharaman and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the IMF headquarters. Mnuchin is scheduled to visit India early next month. “In fact, I broadly mentioned it to Secretary Mnuchin, but that is something on which the Commerce Minister and Mr (Robert) Lighthizer (US Trade Representatives) are working. My inputs are that the negotiations are going in full speed and there’s a great intensity with which both sides are engaging and hopefully the deal will be structured soon,” Sitharaman said on Saturday.
India is demanding exemption from high duties imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminium products, resumption of export benefits to certain domestic products under their Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), greater market access for its products from sectors, including agriculture, automobile, auto components and engineering.
On the other hand, the US wants greater market access for its farm and manufacturing products, dairy items and medical devices, and cut on import duties on some ICT products. The US has also raised concerns over high trade deficit with India.
Responding to a question, Sitharaman said a totalisation agreement with the US has always been on the cards.
A totalisation agreement seeks to eliminate dual taxation with regards to social security and medicare taxes in the US. An official release issued said Sitharaman had a “fruitful” dialogue with Mnuchin.
Sitharaman said she will prepare a blueprint for international companies that are looking beyond China to make India as their preferred investment destination.
She said industry leaders who are contemplating getting their businesses out of China are “definitely considering India as the pitch”.
Therefore, she said, it might be important for the government to now see and meet up with a lot of industry leaders and invite them to India.