Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal will hold talks in Washington DC

Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal will be in Washington today through Tuesday, during which time he will meet

piyush goyal

Photo: BCCL

Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal will be in Washington today through Tuesday, during which time he will meet with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Trade tensions between the two countries have upped after New Delhi imposed retaliatory tariffs following Washington’s imposition of duties on steel and aluminium imports. The US responded by revoking India’s inclusion in its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which provides tariff reductions on certain products.

Regardless, following India’s last-minute withdrawal from the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership last week, Goyal will be looking to make headway on a possible bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). Though significant progress on an FTA is unlikely today, both sides will chip away at smaller issues. For its part, New Delhi is likely to concede duties on certain agricultural goods, motorbikes and mobile phone technologies while pushing for a restoration of the GSP.

In the medium to long term, expect both sides to work towards an FTA. Washington will likely seek greater market access to the Indian defence, aircraft, liquid natural gas and electronics industries. New Delhi’s priorities lie in garnering more substantial access to the US pharmaceutical, IT, auto and agricultural markets. If concessions in these areas can be made by both sides, expect an FTA between the two to materialise in the medium to long term.