The Union Commerce Secretary Shri Rajeev Kher today met Ms Wendy Cutler, Acting Deputy US Trade Representative on her visit to India as part of an inter-ministerial discussion to deliberate on the agenda setting, modalities and dates for convening the next Ministerial Level Meeting of the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) in New Delhi, India before the end of this year. The issues that are likely to be taken up for discussion at the next Ministerial Level Meeting of the TPF from both sides were also deliberated at length.
The Indian side proposed two set of dates for hosting the next meeting of the TPF in India before the end of this year.
Shri Kher flagged key issues that India would like to take up at the next meeting of the TPF. He highlighted India’s concerns on US Totalization and Social Security Act and how the Policy was discriminatory towards Indian workers in US who ended up losing their social security contributions due to discrepancy in the visa and social security regimes, also indicating recourse to legal remedies.
Issues of high visa costs and corresponding higher wage implications and its impact on India’s IT Industry and Professionals under the US Immigration Reforms was also mentioned for inclusion in the agenda. The Commerce Secretary also sought information on reauthorization of the Generalized System of Preference (GSP) which expired in July, 2013 and is awaiting Congressional approval. Market Access issues of agrarian products namely, rice, mangoes, pomegranates and table grapes also figured in the discussion as did US Department of Labour Listing of Textile products which acting as anon-tariff barrier has impacted exports of certain textile products to US markets. On the IPR side India for the first time showed great interest in raising the issue of market access for pharmacopeia and professionals under India’s traditional system of medicines (Ayush) and also suggested a bilateral institutionalized mechanism for discussing issues of bio-piracy with the US side.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s visit to US also came up for discussion as did India’s stand on the Food Security and Trade Facilitation as part of the Bali Agreement. Mr Kher in categorical terms reiterated India’s avowed position on Food Security and Trade Facilitation at great length, re-affirming and reassuring India’s commitment to the Bali Agreement while re-emphasizing a desire for a time bound and permanent solution to the food security issue.
Discussions were also held on intellectual property Issues and investment in manufacturing.