Keeping in mind big picture of ties with US during trade talks: India

New Delhi: Indian and US officials were engaged on Thursday in thrashing out a trade impasse in a “problem solving manner”, days after US President Donald Trump tweeted that India’s high tariff regime is not acceptable to the US.

A US delegation led by Assistant US Trade Representative (AUSTR) for South and Central Asia, Christopher Wilson, Aand USTR Deputy Assistant Brendan Lynch were in New Delhi to meet Indian officials.

The Indian side – comprising officers from both the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Commerce – was led by an Additional Secretary level officer from the Ministry of Commerce.

“India has long had a field day putting Tariffs on American products. No longer acceptable!” Trump had tweeted on Tuesday.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi andA President Trump’s meeting in Osaka, Japan, all issues including trade and 5G were discussed. “It was decided that officials from both sides would meet to resolve all outstanding issues. There were quite a few issues on the table. Our approach is to engage with them very constructively in a very positive manner,” said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar at the weekly media briefing here on Thursday.

“It is important to keep in mind when we engage on this issue – that the trajectory of the relationship remains positive. And we have to keep in mind the bigger picture, and within that big picture we have to address all the issues,” he added.

“There are quite a few issues on the table, and many of the issues were discussed during the Modi-Trump meeting. We are looking forward to resolving the issues, looking forward to constructive engagement with the US in these matters. Many of the issues are technical, in terms of tariffs etc, and those issues we will have to wait and see, how they are addressed,” the spokesperson said.

India has imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products, including almonds and apples, from June this year, as counter to the increase in steel and aluminium tariffs announced by the US and the withdrawal of duty-free benefits to Indian exporters.

On the issue of 5G, the spokesperson said that there are requests from several companies to conduct 5G trials.

“A committee has been set up for the purpose, and it has received inputs from different departments and ministries and stakeholders. Our understanding is that there are several issues in it – the size of the market, our capabilities in R&D, and how we leverage all this with Make in India,” the spokesperson added.

He said that whatever is decided will be done taking into consideration India’s “economic and security interests”.

The US has demanded that countries ban Chinese telecom major Huawei’s 5G network because of security concerns.