India, US officials may start trade talks in July

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Trade officials of India and the US are likely to meet in July for bilateral talks to prepare an agenda for the ministerial-level dialogue expected in October, Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher said today.

"There are whole lot of bilateral issues to be discussed such as issues of market access and rules," Kher told reporters here.

Matters including India's proposal to impose anti-dumping duty on solar cells being imported from the US and intellectual property rights related issues would also come up for discussions.

"We will engage into a bilateral conversation very soon. The dates have yet to be finalised. The official level conversation would be in July and the ministerial level conversation might happen in October," he said.

The trade officials' meeting will prepare the groundwork for the ministerial level meeting of Trade Policy Forum (TPF).

The US-India TPF is an inter-agency collaboration led by the USTR. It is the principal trade dialogue between the countries. It has five focus groups: Agriculture, Investment, Innovation and Creativity (intellectual property rights), Services, and Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers.

Recently, USTR Michael Froman called up Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the two talked about ways to further strengthen the relations on economic front.

The USTR talked about the TPF, which has not met for quite some time. It has met last time in 2010.

In recent months, the US has increased its attack against India's intellectual property regime and safety issues related to domestic pharmaceutical sector.

American pharma sector had alleged that Indian IPR laws discriminate against US companies and violate global norms. The USTR in its Special 301 report had kept India out of the Priority list but has said that they would do an 'out-of-cycle' review of India's IPR regime.

At present, the bilateral trade is around $ 100 billion. The US-India Business Council had said it could touch the $ 500-billion mark over the next one decade.

Meanwhile, India has received about $ 12 billion in FDI from the US companies from April 2000 to March 2014.

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