Market access issues on goods and services as well as Intellectual Property Rights policy-related matters are expected to figure in the India-U.S. Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meetings slated to be held here on October 19 and October 20.
The minister-level meeting on October 20 will be led by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman from the Amercian side and commerce & industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman from India, an official statement said. Under the TPF (the premier bilateral forum for discussion and resolution of trade and investment issues), there would also be technical-level discussions on October 18 followed by a meeting at the level of the Indian commerce secretary and the deputy USTR on October 19.
Strong bilateral commercial ties between the U.S. and India are reflected by the increased bilateral trade in goods and services of $109 billion and the highest-ever FDI inflows in 2015-16, the statement said. Both countries had set a goal to take two-way trade to $500 billion in the years ahead. During the TPF, they are also likely to take up e-commerce related issues.
In August, the U.S. had agreed to “look into” India’s concerns on the Obama administration’s move to hike fees for H1-B and L1 visas.
India Inc. had also raised the issue saying the move had hurt Indian IT firms, which are the main users of these work visas meant for foreign skilled workers. India also wanted the U.S. to look into the delay in reaching an agreement on totalisation (or a social security pact).
According to India, the absence of a totalisation pact is imposing a burden on the Indian software sector (who send professionals to the U.S. on projects) as they have to shell out over $1 billion per year to the U.S. Government towards social security, with no benefit or prospect of refund.
Leading U.S. companies had said they continued to fear the retrospective aspects of India’s taxation regime despite the government’s assurances.
They had also raised concerns on protection of IPR in India as well as concerns over inefficiencies in infrastructure and commerce in India.
The U.S. government had red-flagged investor concerns about India’s “high” tariff walls, localisation requirements as well as other “trade barriers” created by standards on testing, certification, and registration.