Trade officials of India and the U.S. are expected to
meet in Delhi to prepare the groundwork for the ministerial level meeting of
the Trade Policy Forum (TPF).
The U.S.-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.
In recent months, the U.S. has increased its attack
against India’s intellectual property regime and safety issues related to
domestic pharmaceutical sector. The American pharma sector had alleged that
the Indian IPR laws discriminate against U.S. companies and violate global
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, bilateral trade is around $100 billion. The
U.S.-India Business Council had said bilateral trade between the countries
could touch $500-billion mark over the next one decade.
The crisis at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks in
Geneva has deepened with the United States demanding that India and China be
categorised as ‘emerging’ rather than as ‘developing economies’. India is
resisting the move which, if it materialises, will halve WTO caps applicable
to India’s food subsidies. It will also require India to grant market access
to the U.S. The U.S. is insisting that India meet its food security law
obligations with American imports.
“The U.S. insists that economies such as India and
Indonesia with high rates of growth can no longer be categorised as
developing countries,” the sources said. “India’s stand is that going by per
capita income, it is actually the world’s largest Least Developed Country
where about 600 million live at less than $2 a day,” the sources said.
The U.S. has also tabled a study in Geneva, produced by
its allies Pakistan and Canada, that claims food subsidies in India and
China exceed those in the U.S. and the EU.India has countered the study,
with data to show that the U.S. farm subsidies to its corporate sector are
to the tune of $20,000 to $30,000 per capita per year against India’s mere
At the Geneva talks, the U.S. has so far successfully
thwarted India’s efforts aimed at finding a permanent protection against
even the WTO’s agriculture caps currently applicable to its food subsidies.
America’s own agenda of an agreement on Trade Facilitation, however, is well
on track for the July 31 deadline as laid down at the Bali Ministerial.