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Amid escalating trade tensions, US, India begin talks

This is the first engagement between the two sides on trade issues after Modi met with Trump in Osaka.

India and US trade officials held talks on Friday in a bid to resolve the pertaining trade differences.

The US delegations headed by Assistant USTR for India Christopher Wilson reached New Delhi on Thursday.

The delegation also includes Deputy Assistant USTR Brendan Lynch. The two sides are holding a comprehensive dialogue in the Commerce and Industry Ministry with the Additional Secretary. This is the first engagement between the two sides on trade issues after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Trump in Osaka on the sidelines of G20 Summit last month.

Trump has repeatedly raised the issue of India putting high import duties on American products. The trade tensions between the two nations escalated on June 5 when Washington rolled back the privileges that New Delhi was enjoying under their GSP or Generalised System of Preferences programme.

The GSP, implemented since 1974, is the largest and oldest US trade-preference scheme and it allows duty-free imports for thousands of products from designated beneficiary countries.

On its part, India had imposed retaliatory tariffs on 25 American goods, less than two weeks after the Trump administration announced an end to the preferential trade treatment for India.

India on Thursday said that it seeks very constructive and positive engagement with the US counterparts.

“Meeting with the US delegation is underway as we speak. There was a meeting followed by lunch, in the afternoon, and also it will resume again. It was decided in Osaka, where Prime Minister Modi and President Donald Trump met, that officials from both sides will meet to resolve all outstanding issues related to trade very soon,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at the weekly briefing.

During the visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to New Delhi last month, India and the US had acknowledged there were issues between the two countries on trade and committed themselves to remove differences between them.

After talks with Pompeo, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had told the media that both the countries should take “constructive and pragmatic view” on the issues pertaining to trade.

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