India-US Trade Policy Forum Boosts Bilateral Ties at 14th Ministerial Meeting

The ministers committed to pursuing these efforts to establish the foundation for future joint initiatives…reports Asian Lite News

The 14th ministerial-level meeting of the India-United States Trade Policy Forum (TPF) was held here in the national capital on Friday. Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and US Trade Representative, Ambassador Katherine Tai, co-chaired the meeting.

The Ministers underlined the significance of the Forum in forging robust bilateral trade ties and in enhancing the overall economic relationship, as per a joint statement issued after the meeting.
They welcomed the strong momentum in India-US bilateral trade in goods and services, which continued to rise and likely surpassed USD 200 billion in the calendar year 2023 despite a challenging global trade environment.

They acknowledged that, considering the size of their economies, the significant potential remains unrealized and expressed their mutual desire to further enhance engagement to continue to increase and diversify bilateral trade. The ministers agreed that their governments will pursue enhanced engagement leading to mutually beneficial outcomes in several areas to deepen the trade relationship for the benefit of working people. They identified certain areas, including critical minerals, customs and trade facilitation, supply chains, and trade in high-tech products, in which the United States and India will develop an ambitious and forward-looking roadmap for enhanced cooperation to achieve economically meaningful outcomes.

The ministers committed to pursuing these efforts to establish the foundation for future joint initiatives. The ministers agreed to establish a pathway in which India and the United States will mutually recognise results from accredited conformity assessment bodies utilising International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and International Accreditation Forum (IAF) mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs), on a bilateral basis whenever possible.
This will allow labs and conformity assessment bodies to certify that products are compliant with certain standards. This would eliminate duplicative testing requirements and reduce compliance costs for trade in high-quality goods.

The ministers committed to identifying priority sectors of mutual interest for implementation and establishing a Joint Facilitative Mechanism (JFM) for the same, the terms of reference for which will be finalised at the earliest. The Ministers welcomed the finalisation of the Turtle Excluder Device (TED) design developed with the technical support of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The collaboration between India and the United States to expedite the TED demonstrations will confirm that the TED design effectively minimises the impact of commercial shrimp trawl operations on sea turtle populations.

The ministers acknowledged that NOAA has scheduled its visit to India for February 2024 to carry out field demonstrations with the newly designed TED and conduct workshops for stakeholders. Both sides acknowledged that the timely completion of the field demonstrations could contribute to the sustainable management and protection of marine and coastal ecosystems, thereby fostering enhanced seafood trade between the two countries. The ministers emphasised their mutual interest in furthering public health discussions to ensure safe and effective medical products. India emphasised the need to increase the number of inspections by the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) in India to facilitate trade and continue to reduce the backlog.
The United States appreciated India’s remarks, noting that the US FDA has increased staffing to increase pharmaceutical inspections conducted by the agency.

Ambassador Tai raised the issue of India’s new import requirements for computers, tablets, and servers. Minister Goyal described India’s objectives, including those related to national security concerns, and Ambassador Tai expressed a willingness to collaborate with India on the shared objective of supply chain resilience in this sector. India conveyed its willingness to continue engaging on this issue with the United States and other interested stakeholders. She further welcomed that India has implemented the “import management system for specified IT hardware” in a facilitative manner that has thus far minimised the impact on trade and urged India to ensure that the end-to-end online system currently in operation and related policies do not restrict trade going forward. The United States welcomed India’s decision to reduce the timeline for reaching 20 per cent ethanol blending with petrol from 2030 to 2025 and for the launch of the Global Biofuels Alliance as well as the India-US Biofuels Task Force.

They offered to explore ways that the United States can supplement the ethanol supply in India for fuel blending if stocks in India fall short of demand. (ANI)

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