Indian Trade Minister’s Visit Fails to Persuade US Lawmakers

Representative Dan Newhouse (WA-04) joined Chairman of the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, Dave Reichert (WA-08), and a bipartisan group of Members of Congress from Washington State signed letter to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), Ambassador Robert Lighthizer. Members of Congress also signing the letter include Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, Representative Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Rep. Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers (WA-05), Rep. Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09), and Rep. Denny Heck (WA-10).

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Washington, DC – A visiting Indian minister last week failed to calm frayed nerves in the US capital over trade and commerce hiccups between the two democracies as evident from a sugar coated readout from the Indian mission here.

Summing up the visit of Suresh Prabhu, Indian Federal Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation to the US from June 10-12, the Indian Embassy said, “The meetings were held in a friendly and cordial atmosphere, with appreciation for each other’s points of view. Discussions centered around bilateral trade and commercial relations between the two countries and focused on finding the way forward to address concerns of both sides.

According to reliable sources there was utter failure on the agreement front and the onus was shifted to decision makers back home. There was no mention of ongoing trade disputes, or India going to the World Trade Organization (WTO) before bringing trade disputes up in the bilateral talk during this visit.

Eleven bipartisan US lawmakers in a letter to the US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer noted, “On May 28th, India notified the World Trade Organization that it plans before June 21st to raise its tariff on apples from the already very high level of 50 percent to 80 percent.,” adding, “As the second largest market-to-date this season, an eighty percent tariff on apples entering India would have a grave impact on Washington’s growers.

Listing a variety of shipments like “around one million cartons of apples” on container ships en route to India, the lawmakers said, “With so much at stake, we urge the Administration to make it a priority to prevent this additional thirty percent tariff from going into effect.”

With all these efforts of the US lawmakers to pressure the US officials, the sources tell IAT that the Indian side wanted time to consult higher-ups in Delhi, and that is evident in the Indian Embassy statement where it noted, “In this context, it was agreed that Indian and US officials would meet at a senior level at an early date to discuss various issues of interest to both sides and carry forward the discussions in a positive, constructive and result oriented manner.”

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