Suresh Prabhu's Meetings Fails to Resolve India-U.S. Trade IssuesTop Stories

June 14, 2018 04:09
Suresh Prabhu's Meetings Fails to Resolve India-U.S. Trade Issues

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Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu's meetings with United States Ministers and industry leaders failed to resolve abiding conflicts between the two countries on multiple trade issues.

A delegation of senior Indian officials will travel to the U.S. Shortly to proceed negotiations, Prabhu said after his meetings.

India government's enforcement of price control on medical devices and requirement of data localization proclaimed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) remained intractable questions, according to sources familiar with Prabhu's talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

India's move to take the question of U.S. steel tariff to the World Trade Organization (WTO) was not appreciated by the American interlocutors.

Prabhu likewise met the India Caucus Co-chairs Senator Mark Robert Warner and Senator John Cornyn.

Affable and cordial meetings

"The meetings were held in a friendly and cordial atmosphere, with an appreciation for each other points of view. Discussions centered around bilateral trade and commercial relations between the two countries and focused on finding the way forward to address concerns of both sides," the Indian Embassy said in a statement.

"It was agreed that Indian and US officials would meet at a senior level at an early date to discuss various issues of interest to both sides and carry forward the discussions in a positive, constructive and result-oriented manner," the statement said.

According to an industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity, the mode of price control on medical devices in India is neither tenable nor tolerable."

The sources said, American medical device manufactures concern that if the Indian model of price control is allowed to stand, other developing countries may soon follow suit. Prabhu offered to engage the companies on their concerns, but this commitment did little to resolve the tensions.

An American business leader said if the U.S were to impose such a requirement with regard to American consumers, the backbone of Indian BPO sector would be broken. "Imagine what will happen if the U.S decides that U.S data cannot be processed outside."

American companies are as well protesting the data localization requirement for financial service companies.

Don't over read into trade tensions: Nisha Biswal

Nisha Biswal, president of the U.S. India Business Council (USIBC), said one should not "over-read the tensions."

"The Minister's visit was incredibly important and the timing is critical. Don’t over read into trade tensions. As trade increases between two countries, points of friction will also increase, the challenge is to turn these into opportunities," she said.

The RBI guidelines on data localization "create constraints for companies," she said. "When supply chains and operations are global, this creates inhibitions to investment and innovation in India. Industry understands the concerns of the Indian government and is willing to work with it on finding a resolution," she said.

By Sowmya Sangam

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Suresh Parbhu  Trade  WTO  Indian-US  USIBC