Osaka: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump Friday ‘aired’ their concerns over the bilateral trade disputes and agreed for an early meeting of their Commerce Ministers to sort out the issues, a day after the US leader demanded withdrawal of the ‘very high’ tariffs levied by India on American goods.
Though trade is an important part of the booming bilateral relationship, a row over market access and tariffs has escalated in recent months, leading to fears of a protracted dispute.
President Trump had said Thursday that India’s ‘very high’ tariffs on US goods are ‘unacceptable’ and must be withdrawn.
“I look forward to speaking with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi about the fact that India, for years having put very high tariffs against the United States, just recently increased the tariffs even further. This is unacceptable and the Tariffs must be withdrawn!” Trump had said in a tweet on his way to Osaka, to participate in the G20 Summit.
“The talks with @POTUS were wide ranging. We discussed ways to leverage the power of technology, improve defence and security ties as well as issues relating to trade,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted after his meeting with President Trump.
Briefing reporters on the Modi-Trump meeting, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the issue of trade was discussed by the two leaders.
“There was a discussion on trade, both sides aired their concerns, both sides spoke about the interest of the other side and what was agreed was that the trade ministers of both countries would meet at an early date and would try and sort out these issues,” Gokhale said.
“The Prime Minister did mention in particular that we had taken some action after the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) was revoked, that was now something that already had happened and now we should now look forward and we should see how we can resolve some of these issues,” added Gokhale.
President Trump welcomed this idea, informed Gokhale while adding that both US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were in the room when the two top leaders met.
“So what we expect now (is) an early meeting and the level is still be decided whether it will be at the level of Commerce & Industry Minister and USTR or we will first have technical discussions, that is an issue to be decided,” the foreign secretary said. “But essentially it was a very productive discussion, it was very open discussion and we will take things forward,” he added.
India has raised tariffs on 28 items, including almond, pulses and walnut, exported from the US in retaliation to America’s withdrawal of preferential access for Indian products.