Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale during the special briefing in New York on Tuesday (Photo/ANI)
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale during the special briefing in New York on Tuesday (Photo/ANI)

We have narrowed the areas of differences: Gokhale on US-India trade talks

ANI | Updated: Sep 24, 2019 23:56 IST

New York [USA], Sept 24 (ANI): India and the United States have narrowed down the areas of differences in trade talks and both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump are optimistic about reaching "some kind of a trade agreement in the near future", said Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale during a special media briefing here on Tuesday.
He also highlighted that India and the US share a symbiotic relationship when it comes to trade, as Indian companies are also investing in the US.
"The Prime Minister and the President share a good relationship and that relationship translates into a broader understanding between the two countries. After the press withdrew, the two leaders began with the discussion on trade issues. These are issues which both sides consider important," the Foreign Secretary said in the presser held following the bilateral here.
"We have made significant progress both in terms of growing the trade in the last three or four years and in terms of reducing the trade deficit as well. Among the top 10 trading countries, India is the only one where trade has both grown with the US and the trade deficit has also reduced," he added.
"Both leaders reviewed the discussions which are ongoing. The Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has specially travelled to New York over the weekend. He has been having discussions with US Representative Robert Lighthizer. Significant progress has been made on a number of issues. We have narrowed the areas of difference. The two leaders, therefore, felt that they were optimistic in terms of us reaching some kind of a trade agreement in the near future," he stated.
Gokhale also said that discussions will continue in this regard.
"The Prime Minister did repeatedly say that India has taken a number of steps including most recently during his visit to Houston, where Indian companies are also investing in the US. Therefore it is a symbiotic relationship, one that involves give and take," he said.
The US-India bilateral was held at the UN organisation headquarters. It is the fourth meeting in as many months.
"We did not discuss a timeline on trade but we are optimistic that we will be able to conclude an understanding and agreement fairly soon," Gokhale said in response to a question by ANI.
Tuesday's meeting came in the backdrop of the US ending the privileges that India was enjoying under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) program on June 5.
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.
A bipartisan group of 44 US lawmakers had urged the Trump administration to reinstate the programme for New Delhi, following Washington's move.
Despite this, both countries have expressed confidence in their bilateral and trade ties. (ANI)