India and the United States are expected to hold discussions on the present state of play at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and outstanding bilateral issues in the second week of April. New Delhi is hosting the fourth meeting of the bilateral trade policy forum on 12-13 April.
Government officials said the US side would be led by the trade representative Susan Schwab, while the Indian side by commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath. The meeting assumes significance since both the US and India have been maintaining their different positions on WTO.
New Delhi is insisting on the right of developing countries to have a list of special products, which would be exempt from duty cuts, even while the US wants India to offer market access even on these items. India is also keen that the US offers deeper cuts in its farm subsidies.
Both Schwab and Nath are also likely to meet in Paris on 1 April at a G-4 meeting being convened to discuss WTO-related issues. Officials said there was a possibility of the US announcing its intention to begin imports of mangoes from this year.
The US has so far not allowed import of Indian mangoes, citing its stringent sanitary and phyto-sanitary norms. The US side had also been insisiting on Indian exporters paying a “facility creation charge”, which includes costs on inspection and sanitary checks. However, it has now indicated its willingness to allow these imports from the coming mango season.
The Indo-US trade policy forum has five focus group areas —agriculture, industrial products, services, investment, and innovation, and creativity, which primarily focuses on intellectual property rights.