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14th India-US Trade Policy Forum Meeting: India Urges Lifting of Ban on Wild-Caught Shrimp Exports

The objective of 14th India-US Trade Policy Forum Meeting is to develop an ambitious roadmap for enhanced cooperation, aiming for economically meaningful outcomes.

Shivam Dwivedi
14th India-US Trade Policy Forum Meeting: India Urges Lifting of Ban on Wild-Caught Shrimp Exports (Photo Source: Piyush Goyal/twitter)
14th India-US Trade Policy Forum Meeting: India Urges Lifting of Ban on Wild-Caught Shrimp Exports (Photo Source: Piyush Goyal/twitter)

The 14th Ministerial-level meeting of the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) between India and the United States took place in New Delhi, India, on January 12, 2024, marking a key diplomatic milestone. The meeting, co-chaired by Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, India, and Ambassador Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative, marked a pivotal moment in fortifying resilient bilateral trade and elevating the overall economic partnership between the two nations. The Ministers committed to launching future Joint Initiatives in critical areas, including critical minerals, customs and trade facilitation, supply chains, and trade in high-tech products.

Mitigating Non-Tariff Barriers

Both parties agreed to establish a Joint Facilitative Mechanism (JFM) to address non-tariff barriers, focusing on mutually recognizing results from International Laboratories and establishing mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs). This initiative aims to eliminate duplicative testing requirements and reduce compliance costs for high-quality goods.

Digitalization of Trade Documents

Ambassador Tai commended India's G20 Presidency, particularly highlighting the adoption of High-Level Principles on the Digitalization of Trade Documents. The Ministers pledged to further support the implementation of these principles in other forums, building on the G20 outcomes bilaterally.

Social Security Totalization Agreement

Discussions on a Social Security Totalization Agreement were acknowledged, with both sides encouraging fast-tracking the engagement for a future agreement. This agreement is crucial for enhancing services trade and supporting Indian IT professionals working temporarily in the U.S.

Lifting the Ban on Shrimp Exports

India raised the issue of lifting the ban on exports of wild-caught shrimps, a significant concern affecting Indian fishermen and exports to the U.S. market. Both Ministers welcomed the finalization of the Turtle Excluder Device (TED) design, minimizing the impact of fishing on sea turtle populations and fostering enhanced seafood trade.

Resilient Trade Working Group

Discussions continued under the Resilient Trade Working Group, focusing on India's designation as a TAA Compliant country. This designation would contribute towards supply chain integration for both India and the USA.

U.S. FDA Inspections

India emphasized the need to increase U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) inspections in India to reach pre-pandemic levels, especially considering the growth of pharmaceutical exports to the U.S. Both Ministers recognized the impact of inspections on product approvals and unit renewals.

Visa Processing and Professional Services

Minister Goyal highlighted challenges faced by business visitors from India due to visa processing times. Both Ministers acknowledged the role of professional services in catalyzing bilateral trade and discussed issues related to the recognition of professional qualifications and experience.

Import Management System and Generalized System of Preferences

Discussions also covered the import management system for specific hardware, where Minister Goyal briefed Ambassador Tai about India's objectives, including those related to national security. Minister Goyal reiterated India's interest in restoring its beneficiary status under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences program, with Ambassador Tai expressing openness to consider it based on U.S. Congress criteria.

Bilateral Trade Growth

The Ministers appreciated the strong momentum in India-US bilateral trade, which has likely surpassed $200 billion in calendar year 2023. The bilateral goods and services trade has almost doubled since 2014, signaling accelerated growth benefiting both countries.

Settling Trade Disputes and Strengthening Ties

The Ministers reviewed substantial progress made in addressing concerns impacting the bilateral trade relationship since the 13th TPF held in January 2023. Historic settlement of all seven longstanding trade disputes at the World Trade Organization (WTO) between the two countries was highlighted, achieved during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's state visit to the U.S. in June 2023 and subsequently during President Biden's visit to India for the G20 Summit in September 2023.

Deepening Ties Between Vibrant Democracies

As vibrant democracies, India and the USA, natural partners with trade complementarities, have longstanding strategic and economic relationships. People-to-people contacts and collaborations under QUAD, I2U2, and IPEF, including regular exchanges at the leadership level, further strengthen the existing deep ties between the two nations. Ambassador Tai's visit has served to deepen these ties, fostering a positive trajectory in the India-US relationship.

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