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Visa, Agri, GSP Likely To Figure In India-US Trade Policy Forum Meet In January

Upcoming India-US Trade Policy Forum meeting to address critical issues including visa policies, agricultural trade enhancement, and the restoration of India's GSP benefits.

Issues about visas, promoting agri trade and resumption of benefits under the American generalised system of preferences (GSP) are expected to figure in the meeting of India-US Trade Policy Forum (TPF) in January here, an official said.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai will be here for a meeting with Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.

“Both sides will discuss ways to increase trade and investments between the two countries during the two-day meeting from January 13, 2024. It will be the 14th ministerial-level meeting of the India-US TPF,” the official said.

The last meeting was held in Washington in January 2023. India in that meeting highlighted the delay in the issuance of business visas to people from India.

New Delhi is also keen on restoration of its beneficiary status under the US GSP programme.

The previous Trump administration in the US revoked the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) from India in 2019. The GSP allows eligible developing countries to export duty-free goods to the US.

About 1,900 Indian products from sectors such as chemicals and engineering were getting duty-free access to the US market under the GSP, introduced in 1976.

Both the countries in the last TPF meet had noted that the movement of professionals and skilled workers and business travellers between the countries contributes to enhancing bilateral economic and technological partnership, the official added.

The official said that the proposed social security totalisation agreement may also figure in the meeting.

Under a totalisation agreement, an expatriate in either country need not contribute to the social security schemes of the host country. It would 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.

In the 13th TPF meeting, the two countries launched a new working group on “resilient trade” to deepen bilateral dialogue on a range of issues that can enhance the resiliency and sustainability of the trade relationship including trade facilitation.

TPF is a platform to resolve trade and investment issues between the two countries. It has five focus groups -- Agriculture, Investment, Innovation and Creativity (intellectual property rights), Services and Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers.

The US is the largest trading partner of India. America accounts for about 20 per cent of India’s total exports in goods and is a key market for services sectors like IT.

The bilateral trade between the countries has increased to USD 129.4 billion in 2022-23 from USD 120 billion in 2021-22. India received USD 6 billion in foreign direct investment from the US in 2022-23.

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