In an interview with Sanjay Jog, the US-India Business Council (USIBC) President Nisha Biswal speaks on how the partnership between the two countries is vibrant and they will sort out challenging issues.
Q: Are you optimistic about two countries signing a mini trade deal?
A: As the US and India seek to grow two-way trade to $500 billion, USIBC believes that both the United States and India benefit from fair, competitive and open markets, which open the door to new investment and stronger commercial ties. That’s why we have advocated for a bilateral trade deal that would reduce barriers to trade and resolve some of the longstanding irritants that stand in the way of a deeper economic partnership. With trade negotiations now stretching over a year, we congratulate negotiators in both the US and India who have worked diligently to try to work through trade issues and get to a win-win agreement for both economies.
Q: Will such a deal be a reality?
A: USIBC and many of our members are disappointed by signals from both governments that a trade package is unlikely in advance of President Trump’s visit. A Presidential visit can be a catalyst for action on trade, and we had hoped that the trip would spur both sides to find common ground and reach an agreement. With both the US and India likely to turn their focus to domestic issues in the year ahead, failure to conclude even a limited trade deal would send a negative signal to industry and investors in both countries. While time is short, USIBC will continue to urge both sides to come to the table and conclude a limited trade agreement – whether before or after the President’s trip – which can serve as the springboard for more comprehensive trade discussions down the road.
Q: However, there are concerns expressed by both countries with regard to trade barriers. How can they be addressed?
A: As the US-India trade relationship becomes more consequential, it’s natural that it will also be more contentious. It’s critical that the US and India find a way to work through challenging issues in traditional trade areas like medical devices and agricultural market access, as well as emerging areas like insurance, information and communications technology (ICT), and data governance, which will animate the relationship in the years ahead. We expect that Prime Minister Modi and President Trump will have conversations about some of these critical issues, and hope to see progress on the economic issues needed to move the US-India economic partnership forward.
Q: What is the present state of trade and investment?
A: President Trump and Prime Minister Modi have long emphasized the importance of the bilateral relationship, with Prime Minister Modi travelling to the US twice last year and the two leaders meeting several more times on the sidelines of international summits. New trade and commercial relationships propelled US-India goods and services trade to $160 billion last year, up from $100 billion just five years ago.