India has asked the United States to restart the annual India-US Trade Policy Forum (TPF) soon so that a long list of pending bilateral trade issues can be solved as India is eager to secure a working relationship with the new Joe Biden administration from the start.
The TPF has not met since 2017 due to the lack of interest by the former administration, which had also escalated attacks against India at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
After an increasingly combative relationship with the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) office over the past four years, the Piyush Goyal-led Commerce Department took the decision to request the USTR to rekindle the dialogue soon after the US election, sources said.
Both the government bodies had repeatedly clashed as former USTR Robert Lighthizer sharpened criticism against India on a long list of issues, including India’s import duties for American goods, export subsidies and assistance given by New Delhi to exporters and market access for US goods.
“Most importantly, the new administration is keen to begin talks with India on the Modi government’s policies on data privacy, e-commerce and digitisation. The issue of server localisation, which had hit a wall in 2020, will also be taken up by Biden’s team,” a senior diplomat based in Washington DC said.
The US remains India’s largest export destination, with merchandise worth $53 billion shipped in 2019-20. Imports stood at $35 billion, making the US India’s biggest trade partner globally.