India and the US have identified almost 40 products like pistachios, walnuts and apples that can be considered for duty concessions. The two sides are also trying to zero in on workable concessions for medical devices.
The issues were discussed at an official-level meeting between trade negotiators of the two countries last week even as there were no talks on dairy imports. “Discussions are mostly around agricultural goods,” a source said.
Washington is also said to have asked New Delhi to reduce the import duty on pulses. The US, along with Canada and Australia, had moved the World Trade Organization (WTO) against India’s ban on import of certain pulses to check falling prices in the domestic market. India, however, doesn’t have any issues with increased import of pistachios from the US, sources said.
“There is slow progress on the talks,” said one of them. The progress comes after commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal met US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer and American medical devices industry representatives in the US a fortnight ago. Lighthizer is likely to visit India soon.
Price controls on medical devices and dairy imports are the other key issues that the two sides have been trying to resolve.
Goyal has said that protecting the farming community and religious sensitivities while importing products having animal feed in their food chain are the red lines in India’s trade negotiations with the US. Dairy was one of the sectors that had vehemently opposed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement that India decided not to join after seven years of negotiations.
Experts called the progress in the India-US talks a steppingstone towards a trade package.
“This is a good progress because both sides have sensitive issues. The way the two sides are progressing, a trade package could be finalised in a month or two,” said an expert on trade issues.