US Commerce Secretary to Raise India's E-Commerce Rules in Talks

Ross is visiting New Delhi at a time when India and the USA are locked in disputes over tariffs, price caps India has imposed on imported US medical apparatus, and over rules banning companies from selling products through companies where they have an equity interest.

India also prohibits businesses from making trades with vendors to market exclusively on their own platforms, rules that could impact investment plans of foreign companies in India’s fast-growing market place to touch $200 billion (roughly Rs. 14 lakh crores) by 2027.

Ross told reporters he would talk about e-commerce with India’s trade ministry, Suresh Prabhu.

Two commerce ministry sources said India was hoping for a breakthrough at the talks.

“We are negotiating and we need there to be some breakthrough since India has bets and they are among the biggest partners and this is an opportunity to de-escalate tensions,” among the sources said.

In March, US President Donald Trump announced plans to finish preferential trade treatment for India that allows duty-free entrance for up to $5.6 billion (roughly Rs. 39,000 crores) worth of its exports to the United States.

India is the world’s biggest beneficiary of that trade concession, called the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), and its withdrawal would be the strongest punitive actions against the country since Trump took office in 2017.

India needs the United States to review its decision on GSP and hopes it will defer its decision to withdraw trade privileges until India’s general elections are over on May 19, one of the sources said.

Political and security ties between India and the United States have grown but trade has become a problem. Indian officials said both sides are likely to emphasise strategic ties and try to handle trade differences.

“The messaging is a re-assurance the US thinks of India as a strategic partner and the relationship cannot be coloured by differences on trade,” one of the sources mentioned.

Total US trade with India stood at $87.5 billion in 2018, with the deficit at $21.3 billion.

India has held off execution of new tariffs on US goods after Washington refused to give it an exemption on higher steel responsibilities.

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