US-India Trade Forum highlights visa and other bilateral issues and concerns

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From left, Indian Ambassador to US, Taranjit Sandhu, India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, and Commerce Secretary, Sunil Barthwal during the press conference on January 11, 2023, at Ritz Carlton in Washington DC. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

Washington DC: High-level trade talks between U.S. and Indian counterparts Jan. 11, 2023, highlighted the importance of clearing the visa backlog of high-skilled workers and others to enhance the bilateral partnership.

United States Trade Representative (USTR), Ambassador Katherine Tai  discussed a wide range of US-India bilateral trade issues and India’s G20 priorities with

India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal who participated in the 13th US-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF), on January 11, 2023, in the nation’s capital.

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On the issue of visa backlog, a joint statement on US-India TPF stated, “The Ministers noted that the movement of professional and skilled workers, students, investors and business travelers between the countries contributes immensely to enhancing bilateral economic and technological partnership. India acknowledged the steps being taken by the United States to augment processing of visa applications…”

The issues discussed at TPF ranged from India’s request to expedite visas to re-starting wild-caught shrimp exports from India using the new Turtle Excluder Device.

The varied issues dwelt upon were the creation of a new Working Group on Resilient Trade; potential solutions to disputes at the World Trade Organization; importance of resilient supply chains; sustainable finance to promote innovative clean technologies; circular economy and technologies needed to address climate change challenges; resumption of Federal Drug Administration inspections; cooperation in the Fintech sector, and ongoing engagement on Intellectual Property.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo met Goyal to discuss the US-India CEO Forum and Commercial Dialogue meetings scheduled for March 9-10. They also talked about semiconductors, defense production, strengthening laws around quality standards; reviewed the progress being made on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF); supply chains, clean energy, decarbonization and infrastructure, and tax and anti-corruption issues for the next IPEF meeting, which India will host in February.

At a press conference, on January 11, at Washington’s Ritz Carlton, while responding to a question from News India Times about his discussions with Ambassador Tai on using renewable energy to achieve net-zero emissions, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s call for a strong leadership from the G20 on climate front, Goyal said “The G20 Presidency was discussed quite elaborately in my meeting with Ambassador Tai and I must say that it’s a great opportunity for India, which is today the voice of the Global South… On environment while it’s a collective responsibility of all countries to save the planet, I think it’s important that the developed countries, the G20 countries, also recognize that developing countries or less developed countries will need affirmative action….”

“The United States has committed to give full support to India’s efforts to make the G20 truly a vibrant body in which we are able to discuss issues around sustainability, climate change, poverty alleviation, meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, not necessarily by 2030, but faster, like we have successfully done in India,” Goyal said, noting that India is one of the few countries that consistently reports achievements on its nationally determined contributions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi himself is very deeply committed to this fight against climate change. Not just today, but ever since he was Chief Minister of Gujarat… So, the G20 is going to be a very exciting opportunity for India to provide leadership to many of the challenges but for the world. It’s going to be a great opportunity for us to showcase the many strengths of India,” Goyal added, emphasizing the global response to India’s leadership.

According to Goyal, the G20 events which are likely to be held in 56 locations will see around 250 meetings convened across the country this year. India will also be launching new initiatives like the Startup20 under the B20 engagement.

Goyal also had bilateral meetings with James Taiclet, chair of US-India CEO forum from the American side, and Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons, chair of CEO forum on the Indian side.

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