NEW DELHI: With just around 10 days for American President Donald Trump to land in the country, there is still uncertainty over the signing of the much-awaited trade deal between India and the US as the two sides have not managed to narrow differences on several issues.
Sources said that the recent actions by both sides — the US raised duties on certain steel and aluminium products, while India imposed a cess on imported medical devices — can be seen as signals that both sides are still not on the same page. Besides, there is no clarity on US Trade Representative Rober Lighthizer’s visit before Trump’s arrival. Lighthizer and commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal were expected to close the remaining gaps.
But there are indications that the two sides have failed to narrow their differences on several areas including lower duties on farm goods.
“We are in talks and if things work out by the time President Trump comes it is fine, otherwise we will discuss and sort out the issues later,” said a source.
The government had earlier indicated that most of the aspects had been sorted out with India looking to lower tariffs on several goods, including Harley Davidson bikes, and withdraw the so-called retaliatory tariffs in return for the US restoring some of the GSP benefits that allowed lower-duty access for Indian products. Besides, an early agreement on medical devices such as knee implants and stents had also been worked out.
After a series of steps by the US — from withdrawal of GSP to dragging India’s trade schemes to the WTO — New Delhi and Washington had started work on a trade deal, which could have culminated into talks for a free trade agreement in the coming years. In fact, the deal was widely expected during PM Narendra Modi’s trip to the US last September but there were differences which could not be resolved.