US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Thursday he will hold talks with Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal to trash out a trade deal on farm goods and pharmaceuticals.
“I will be meeting Goyal soon. We do think there is no structural reason why there cannot be a trade deal with India pretty quickly. Now the general elections are over, it should be a lot easier to do it. We can reduce our trade deficit,” said Ross at the India Economic Summit held here.
India and the United States have been locked in trade disputes and were expected to announce a limited deal during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s New York tour last month. But no deal was sealed as negotiators were reportedly trying to tie loose ends related to some farm products and generic drugs.
The deal under discussion includes lowering some tariffs on US farm produce while giving Indian pharmaceuticals faster approvals to enter the US market.
The United States has also taken issue with India’s new investment rules on e-commerce that limit how companies like Amazon.com Inc and Walmart-backed Flipkart can do business in a rapidly growing online market set to touch 200 billion dollars by 2027.
Ross said Amazon and other US retailers did not become the world’s biggest companies due to any evil reason. “They have become what they are today due to efficiency. So India has to do the balancing act and decide how they can be doing their business.”
He said the US trade deal with Canada took about 15 months to finalise. “Trade deal often take many years. With Japan also, it was done within a few months. We have a better record of getting things done under Trump administration,” said Ross.
Meanwhile, Goyal said the trade between the two countries is robust with imports from the United States to India growing by nearly 30 per cent, and exports from India to the United States grew by nearly 20 per cent in the last one year.
“The spirit of Indian law is to protect Indian retail industry. In that spirit, we welcome all big retailers to enter India. We do not change rules midway. E-commerce is expected to be an agnostic platform, and not a platform for predatory pricing,” he said.
Goyal said India is the world’s largest democracy offering 4 Ds: demographic dividend, democracy, demand by people aspiring for a better quality of life, and decisive leadership.