India-U.S. Bilateral Trade Never Seems To Live Up To Its Potential, USTR Tai Says

Bilateral trade and barriers will be the primary issues the U.S. will discuss with India.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, and Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal meet in New Delhi, on Nov. 22, 2021. (Photograph: Piyush Goyal)</p></div>
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, and Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal meet in New Delhi, on Nov. 22, 2021. (Photograph: Piyush Goyal)

Market access for American companies, trade barriers and unpredictable regulations are among the issues on the agenda of U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai's India visit as two of the world's largest economies seek to deepen ties.

“The bilateral trade (U.S.-India partnership) never seems to live up to its significant potential,” Tai, who’s on a two-day visit to India, said in Delhi on Monday.

“We hear from stakeholders who aren’t shy very frequently on issues of market access restrictions, high tariffs, unpredictable regulatory requirements, restrictive digital trade measures—these are issues where we intend to make progress and it will be on the top of my list,” she said.

Shared challenges like climate change, sustainability, vulnerable supply chains and promoting market-oriented principles and structures, Tai said, are ripe for closer collaboration. She also said areas like digital economy services, health related trade and agriculture hold great potential.

Tai’s visit—her first to India after assuming office in March—marks the resumption of the India-U.S. Trade Policy Forum after a four-year hiatus.

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said the U.S. “can look upon India as a trusted trade partner”, pointing out that the country has maintained its trade commitments even amid strict lockdowns.

“We rejigged business processes, gave approvals for work-from-home, offered broadband connectivity to homes, gave approvals online and in real-time and ensured every international commitment in 2020-21 had been fulfilled,” the minister said in his speech.

Goyal highlighted Moody’s sovereign rating upgrade for India, increase in foreign trade, rise in FDI inflows in the last 6-7 years, surge in tax collections, the minting of 71 unicorns along with manufacturing and services indices jumping to a record.

“Economic indicators show a new India is shaping up for decadal growth and maybe for longer and to provide a better future for our people and become a base for manufacturing and services so that we can ‘Make in India’ for the world and ‘Work in India’ to serve the world,” he said.

He said India—which has vaccinated 80% of its eligible population with one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and fully vaccinated 43% of its adult population—hopes to manufacture 5 billion doses of the jab next year.