Received Info From India On Social Security Pact, More Work Required On This: USTR Katherine Tai

India has submitted all the relevant data on its social security schemes which was sought by the US to start negotiations on the agreement
Social Security Schemes
Social Security Schemes

The US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Saturday said they have received information from India recently on the proposed social security agreement and there is a lot of work to be done on the subject.

Social security totalisation agreement was one of the key asks from the Indian side in the meeting of the Trade Policy Forum here, as it will significantly contribute towards enhancing services trade between countries and help Indian IT professionals who temporarily work in the US.

India has submitted all the relevant data on its social security schemes which was sought by the US to start negotiations on the agreement.

"Yes, the Indian government is in touch with our social security administration... We have received that information on the eve of the TPF.

"... We have the information and the ball is back in our court, but it's just landed in our court. So there is a lot more work to do" to facilitate the conversation on India's proposal, the US Trade Representative (USTR) Tai told reporters here.

She was here for the 14th TPF meeting. It was co-chaired by her and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.

Under this agreement, an expatriate in either country need not contribute to the social security scheme of the host country.

It will benefit a number of Indians, particularly from the IT sector, who are working in America and paying social security but are unable to get any benefit out of it.

When asked about the issues being raised by the US side on India's import management system for specified IT Hardware, Tai said they have asked India to hold consultations with them and other stakeholders on such matters.

Goyal in the TPF meet has elaborated on India's objectives, including those related to national security concerns on the matter.

"This is an area where we are hearing New Delhi's concerns about sensitivities with imports in these areas. We want to ensure that New Delhi creates a space for consultation not with us but with others including all stakeholders including our stakeholders," she said.

She added that the consultation would ensure that such decisions do not disrupt the regulatory environment, which is important for both sides.

On increasing cooperation in the critical minerals sector, the USTR said these goods are critical to sustainable and resilient economic industrial future for both the nations.

According to the joint statement issued after the TPF meeting, the two ministers expressed commitment to launch future joint initiatives in certain areas, including critical minerals and trade in high tech products, in which the US and India will develop a forward-looking roadmap for enhanced cooperation.

As part of the roadmap, she said "we are going to begin with fact finding exploration and establishing a common vocabulary".

When asked about agri-related issues on both sides, the USTR said America is looking at greater market access for products such as almonds, walnuts, blue berries, and cranberries.

India has issues with regard to grapes, mangoes and pomegranates in the US market.

On India's concerns over delay in visa process for Indian businesses, Tai said the USTR office facilitates the conversation on this subject with the parts of the US administration that are responsible for these issues.

Goyal in the TPF has highlighted challenges being faced by business visitors from India due to visa processing time periods and requested the United States to augment the processing.

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