India, US agree to continue talks on visa issues

New Delhi, Nov 25: India and the US on Tuesday decided to explore the possibility of giving greater market access to agri products and continue engagement on visa issues.

These issues were discussed during the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meeting which was co-chaired by Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and US Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman here.


The US also took note of India’s interest in engaging on social security totalisation and agreed to review any information provided by India about developments in its social security regime.

"They decided to continue their engagement on visa issues, and the US took note of India`s interest in ensuring easier access for Indian professionals in the US.

"Both countries noted each others' requests and agreed to follow up on exploring the possibility of enhanced market access on identified agricultural products," a India-US joint statement on the TPF said.

It said both the countries agreed to establish a new technical dialogue that will promote cooperation on plant and animal health, and food safety issues in a manner that facilitates the movement of agricultural goods between the two countries.

They also agreed to deepen bilateral engagement aimed at promoting bilateral investment across sectors. Both the countries stressed on the importance of providing a transparent and predictable policy environment to help attract investments in manufacturing.

"In this regard, Minister Sitharaman and Ambassador Froman agreed to exchange information on stakeholder participation in the framing of trade and investment policies and procedures, and to discuss best practices," it said.

At several forums, India has raised its serious concerns with the US authorities over visa related issues and discriminatory social security benefits to Indian professionals working in America.

New Delhi wants early conclusion of the Totalisation Agreement. Under this pact an expatriate in either country need not contribute to social security schemes of the host country. India had also issues related with market access for agri products such as rice, mangoes, pomegranates and table grapes.

On IPR, Sitharaman and Froman acknowledged the paramount goal of ensuring the poorest populations in India and the US have access to quality healthcare.

Both the sides committed to identifying ways in which trade and innovation policies can enhance access to quality health and affordable medicines, it added. 

India and the US agreed to work towards facilitating agricultural trade between the countries by engaging with each other closely with the intent of establishing science and risk-based regulations and procedures that conform to international standards.

Indian agri exporters are facing problems in shipping some commodities as they face non-trade barriers in America.

"They also noted the potential reconciliation of the definition of wholesale pack between Departments, forthcoming rules to allow stickering of maximum retail price at the port, and timely implementation efforts concerning these issues," the joint statement said.

On promoting investment in manufacturing, Sitharaman and Froman discussed efforts that each country is undertaking to promote a business friendly environment.

Affirming their shared goal of using trade and investment as a vehicle for stimulating economic growth and job creation, both the ministers agreed to deepen bilateral engagement to promote bilateral investment across sectors.

"In this regard, Sitharaman and Froman agreed to exchange information on stakeholder participation in the framing of trade and investment policies and procedures, and to discuss best practices," it said.

Further, they highlighted their efforts to increase supply chain connectivity and implement single window clearance systems that will benefit all manufacturing activities.

They also agreed to exchange information on international standards and systems of acceptance of conformity assessment procedures with specific focus on understanding each governments’ procedures for testing, packaging, and labeling requirements.

On Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues, both the nations agreed to deepen cooperation to build capacity and generate awareness in the field of copyright. India highlighted the benefits of traditional Indian medicine in view of its potential to enhance access to affordable healthcare.

The US agreed to facilitate further engagement in this field between the experts of both countries, it said adding Sitharaman highlighted India’s work on a new IPR policy which would stimulate innovation across sectors in the country.

America agreed to share information on this subject to support India’s on-going efforts. India and the US also recognised the importance of providing a transparent and predictable policy environment for fostering innovation, and trade secrets protection to attract investment.

Both the sides agreed to exchange information on best legal practices in this area. Further, the statement said that Sitharaman and Froman encouraged the continued work of the US-India Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG), which had been created under the TPF to provide strategic advice.

Both expects that the work of TPF will benefit from the depth, breadth, and diversity of expertise of the PSAG in trade and international affairs in advance of the 2015 forum meeting to be held in Washington.


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