The highs and lows of India-US Trade Relations

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The trade relations between India and United States keep going through crests and troughs but despite all odds, both the countries believe in holding a dialogue and coming on common grounds with each other. That’s what happened this Thursday when both the countries came together to resolve their differences on investment despite the very much noticeable absence of US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on account of bad weather on his side of the globe.

US ambassador to India Kenneth Juster led the delegation discussing the country’s newly instated e-commerce rules affecting Amazon, Walmart etc. India’s large trade deficit with United States was also discussed in the meeting which is a growing concern for the United States as it sees it as the government’s lax intellectual property enforcement.

Since the time of World War 2, India has always maintained strong trade relations with United States and both the countries have contributed a lot to each other’s economic stability. As per the Non-Alignment policy signed by first Prime Minister of India Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru with towering figures of his time such as Marshal Tito and Jamal Abdul Nasir, India did not partake in the war from either side, so despite the Cold War between US and USSR at its peak, India was on good terms with both the superpowers.

USSR helped set up Indian Space Program as well as the industries that further boosted up India’s economy and put it on the path of progress on which it’s running today. Today, Soviet Russia might have disappeared from World Map but one has to admire the foresight of Jawaharlal Nehru that he did everything it took to lay a foundation of a sovereign, Independent India.

Today, when Indian economy is going through a difficult phase owing to the disastrous policies of the ruling government, the need is stronger than ever to come together for a discussion and arrive at a mutually beneficial conclusion.

United States Trade Representative (USTR) made it explicitly clear that Donald Trump has called India’s data localization and tariffs “exceptionally high”. Indian representative asserted that these tariffs are launched in favour of small scale businesses and assured USTR that it’s cutting down on the tariffs gradually and creating jobs for a huge portion of the young population.

Reuters reported last week that the USTR was considering withdrawal or scaling back of these tariffs because of the lack of reciprocity from India on its tariffs, it’s tightening curbs on online sales and its insistence that foreign payment card companies, such as Mastercard and Visa, store data in India. It can also be noticed that while India and United States shared a bilateral trade of $126 billion in 2017, this year it has performed just one-fourth of what its potential is. Though Indian Trade Minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted that India resolves to facilitate two-way trade and investment to build on that growth but desperate measures are required in these desperate times.

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