US - INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW

42 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW JULY-SEPTEMBER 2018 it’s been for India, in Washington, DC, the United Nations, and else- where. Days after President Donald Trump (yet again) accusing, lam- basting New Delhi of charging 100% tariff on some US goods and threatening retaliation, at the G-7 summit in Canada – with scant regard for the cautious bon- homie he has forged with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu found himself at odds in parleys to find solutions to vexatious trade issues with the establishment in Washington. Prabhu, during his three-day visit to the US, from June 10-12, held discussions with Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. He also had a joint meet- ing with the India Caucus Co- chairs Senator Mark Robert Warner and Senator John Cornyn. The official statement released by the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC, tried to soften the blow of not making any head- way in talks, by saying, the “meet- ings were held in a friendly and cordial atmosphere, with apprecia- tion for each other’s points of view,” and “discussions centered around bilateral trade and com- mercial relations between the two countries and focused on finding the way forward to address con- cerns of both sides.” It added: “In this context, it was agreed that Indian and US offi- cials would meet at a senior level at an early date to discuss various issues of interest to both sides and carry forward the discussions in a positive, constructive and result-oriented manner.” Prabhu pointed out the encour- aging growth in trade volumes through purchases of US-made civilian aircrafts by Indian compa- nies and enhanced cooperation in the area of energy, including pro- curement of petroleum and LNG by India from the US, as well as the significant new market oppor- tunities in India that is yet to be explored. However, Prabhu didn’t hold back, acknowledged the tough time he had during his visit, with little to cheer about. “We will now work together to expand (bilateral) trade,” Prabhu told a group of Indian reporters in Washington, DC, according to PTI, admitting that both India and the US have trade and tariff issues with each other. The new set of talks by officials will commence in a matter of days. It’s obvious that Prabhu hit a wall in his talks. If India’s top trade minister couldn’t iron out out- standing issues with his counter- parts in Washington, a new round of talks by officials of both coun- tries within days of this stalemate will, in all likelihood, end in dismal failure too. The PTI report added that the Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Singh Sarna said New Delhi has written to the US on steel and aluminum tariff, asking for relief – another thorny and contentious issue. The Hindu reported that the price control on medical devices imposed by the Indian govern- ment and requirement of data localization announced by the Reserve Bank of India remained intractable questions, according to sources familiar with Prabhu’s talks with Lighthizer, Ross and Perdue. American interlocutors also did not appreciate India’s move to take the question of US steel tariff to the World Trade Organization, it said. The report said American med- ical device manufactures worry that if the Indian model of price control is allowed to stand, other developing countries may soon follow suit. Prabhu offered to engage the companies on their concerns, but this promise did lit- tle to resolve the tensions, accord- ing to a source, Hindu reported. On the data localization require- ment for financial services compa- nies, an American business leader said if the US were to impose such a requirement with regard to American consumers, the back- bone of Indian BPO sector would be broken. In the Trumpian era, where an eye for an eye has assumed diplo- matic norm, the devastating out- come from such a scenario is a worrying one indeed to contem- plate, for India. On the heels of Prabhu’s dismal visit, came a shocker of a report from the United Nations, this week, which has exposed India to It’s obvious that Prabhu hit a wall in his talks. If India’s top trade minister couldn’t iron out outstanding issues with his counterparts in Washington, a new round of talks by officials of both countries within days of this stalemate will, in all likelihood, end in dismal failure too.

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