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US, India hold 12th ministerial meeting of Trade Policy Forum, to reactivate TPF Working Groups

Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and US Trade Representative, Ambassador Katherine Tai, shaking hands at the US-India Trade Policy Forum meeting in New Delhi on November 23,2021. Photo: @PiyushGoyal

New Delhi, Nov 23 (MNN) The US and India on Tuesday held 12th ministerial meeting of Trade Policy Forum here and agreed that TPF Working Groups on agriculture, non-agriculture goods, services, investment, and intellectual property should be re-activated to address issues of mutual concern on an ongoing basis.

Both sides underlined the forum’s significance in forging robust bilateral trade ties and enhancing economic relations to benefit working people in both countries.

Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and US Trade Representative, Ambassador Katherine Tai, co-chaired the TPF meeting.

In a joint statement released at the conclusion of the meet, both agreed that reconvening TPF and regular engagement under the forum will help in addressing outstanding bilateral trade concerns and allow the two countries to explore important, emerging trade policy issues.

The Ministers convened the TPF with a view to advancing the goal announced by President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at their September 24, 2021 meeting to “develop an ambitious, shared vision for the future of the trade relationship.”

The two sides expressed satisfaction over the robust rebound in bilateral merchandise trade in 2021 (January – September 2021), which showed almost 50 per cent growth over the same period in the previous year.

Bilateral merchandise trade in the current year between the two countries is poised to surpass 100 billion dollar mark.

The Ministers also appreciated the importance of two-way services trade and foreign direct investment as contributors to deeper economic and trade ties and noted buoyancy in bilateral FDI investments in recent months.

In the joint statement, US Ambassador Tai expressed appreciation for a number of important economic reforms recently initiated by India, such as liberalisation of FDI in the insurance sector, elimination of a retrospective provision in income tax, and launching of the “Single Window System” for facilitating investment.

She said these reforms have enabled improvements in the business ecosystem.

Ambassador Tai encouraged the continuation of market-oriented reforms which are to be implemented through transparent means.

The Ministers agreed to work collaboratively and constructively in relevant multilateral trade bodies including the WTO, the G20, and the OECD both for enhancing the bilateral trade relationship and for achieving a shared vision of a transparent, rules-based global trading system among market economies and democracies.

The US and India also agreed on the importance of critical and emerging technologies in delivering economic growth and achieving shared strategic priorities, and took note of the work underway on these issues within the Quad framework.

They discussed the importance of regular sharing of perspectives on issues, including cyberspace, semiconductors, AI, 5G, 6G and future generation telecommunications technology.

They welcomed the participation and collaboration of the private sector in both countries in building stronger linkages in these critical sectors, and supporting resilient and secure global supply chains.

Both sides agreed to continue working to expand bilateral trade in agricultural and food products through the TPF Working Group on Agricultural Goods and committed to holding technical dialogues on animal health, plant health, food safety, and other technical issues in 2022.

The Ministers welcomed the agreement to finalise work on market access facilitation for mangoes and pomegranates, pomegranate arils from India, and cherries and alfalfa hay for animal feed from the US.

The US intends to finalize the transfer of preclearance programme/regulatory oversight of irradiation for mangoes and pomegranate to Indian authorities as soon as is practicable.

The US and India also look forward to signing the Systems Approach Operational Work Plan for the export of pomegranate arils from India to the United States. India intends to finalize phyto-sanitary work to allow the importation of U.S. cherries, and India intends to finalise the phyto-sanitary certification which will allow the importation of US alfalfa hay for animal feed into India.

In addition, the US agreed to work to complete India’s request for table grapes access to the US, and India agreed to work to finalise the mutually agreed export certificate to allow the importation of US pork and pork products.

The US side welcomed the extension in time notified by India for accepting certain test results from ILAC accredited labs under the Mandatory Testing and Certification of Telecom Equipment (MTCTE) policy, and both sides agreed on the importance of providing sufficient time for industry to adapt to future testing requirements.

The US also appreciated the extension in time notified by India regarding implementation of Polythene Material for molding and extrusion (Quality Control) Order, 2021 and to consider consultation with industry to discuss labelling arrangements that satisfy the measure’s objectives.

The United States noted its support for India’s ambitious goal of reaching 20 per cent ethanol blending with petrol by 2025 and expressed an interest in supplying ethanol to India for fuel purposes.

The Ministers agreed to explore ways for enhancing collaboration for the implementation of their respective ethanol blending programmes.

The two Ministers exchanged views on harnessing the vast potential of digital trade to spur economic growth and innovation, and committed to work together to build common understanding, and increase engagement both bilaterally, including in the TPF and ICT Working Group, and in relevant multilateral fora, including the G20 and WTO.

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