India and the US could sign a limited trade deal, which will lower duties on apples, almonds, high-end mobiles among other items, during the proposed visit of the US President,Mr. Donald Trump, to the country next month.
'The two sides have made progress and some sort of deal could be announced during the visit,' a senior Commerce Ministry official said. The dates of Mr. Trump’s visits are yet to be finalised.
The Union Commerce Minister , Mr. Piyush Goyal, said India and the US were in an 'advanced stage' of dialogue to resolve some of the pressing issues. Both the countries can expand their relations, which in the future may result in a preferential or a free-trade agreement.
'With the US, we are in an advance stage of dialogue to sort out some of the pressing issues,' he said.. Officials said the country could reduce the duties on over 50 US products
Besides, there may be duty reductions on Harley Davidson bikes, which had been raised by Mr. Trump many times. There could also be some agreement on the increased import of oil and gas from the US.
In return, the country can expect greater access to some of its products, which had zero or nominal duty under the US’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme that provided significant tariff concessions on imports from countries not as developed as the US.
While going ahead with the deal, India will maintain it is open to the import of dairy products, but with the restriction that they are not given animal feed.
Similarly, officials said the duty on US medical devices could be brought down but the price caps would continue.
Trade economist Dr. Biswajit Dhar of Jawaharlal Nehru University said Mr. Trump was under pressure before the presidential election in November to show some results on trade issues after striking a deal with China.
'The US has to blink and offer concessions to India as it is under significant pressure unlike New Delhi at this juncture.'
'As I see it, the visit from Mr. Trump’s perspective would be more to drum up support from the Indian expatriate.