U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman and Minister of Commerce and Industry of India Nirmala Sitharaman gathered in New Delhi Nov. 25 for the eighth ministerial-level meeting of the India-U.S. Trade Policy Forum. According to a joint statement, the two sides signaled their readiness to enhance bilateral trade and investment ties in a way that promotes economic growth and employment. They also agreed to hold a ninth TPF meeting next year in Washington, D.C.
Froman and Sitharaman discussed a number of issues of special interest at the meeting, including agriculture, services, promoting investment in manufacturing, and intellectual property.
Agriculture. The U.S. and India agreed to work towards facilitating bilateral agricultural trade by engaging with each other closely with the intent of establishing science- and risk-based regulations and procedures that conform to international standards and guidelines. They also committed to explore the possibility of enhanced market access on identified agricultural products and noted the potential reconciliation of the definition of wholesale pack between departments, forthcoming rules to allow stickering of maximum retail price at the port, and timely implementation efforts concerning these issues.
Services and Investment. The two sides agreed to increase engagement on services and investment issues, including social security totalization. There were also discussions about India’s interest in ensuring easier access for Indian professionals in the U.S. as well as ongoing efforts in India to promote foreign participation in key services sectors, including those of interest to the U.S.
Promoting Investment in Manufacturing. The U.S. and India stressed the importance of providing a transparent and predictable policy environment to help attract investments in manufacturing and highlighted efforts to increase supply chain connectivity and implement “single window” clearance systems. Froman and Sitharaman agreed to discuss best practices and exchange information on stakeholder participation in the framing of trade and investment policies and procedures. Information exchanges will also take place on international standards and systems of acceptance of conformity assessment procedures with a specific focus on understanding each governments’ procedures for testing, packaging and labeling requirements.
Intellectual Property Rights. The U.S. and India will deepen cooperation to build capacity and generate awareness in the field of copyright. Minister Sitharaman highlighted India’s work on a new intellectual property rights policy intended to stimulate innovation across sectors in the country and the U.S. agreed to share information on this subject to support India’s ongoing efforts. The two sides also discussed access to quality health care by the poorest populations as well as the benefits of traditional Indian medicine.