Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale briefs the media on IAF strikes on Balakot
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale | PTI photo/Manvender Vashist
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New Delhi: A day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to the US, India Thursday said that any forward movement on the proposed trade deal between Washington and New Delhi has to be “mutually balanced” and address the concerns of both sides. The PM is scheduled to visit the US from 21-27 September.

“This (trade) is one of the issues where we feel forward movement should be taken which is mutually balanced, which will addresses the concerns on both sides,” Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said at a media conference in New Delhi.

Modi will be holding a bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump on 24 September in New York. There are talks that both sides might announce a trade deal of sorts in an effort to resolve the rising business disputes between the two nations.

Giving easy access to American medical devices will also be “part of the discussions” at the official level.

“Imposition of tariff under 232 is a unilateral action by the US and should be withdrawn,” said Gokhale.

In March 2018, the US had imposed a global additional tariff of 25 per cent and 10 per cent on import of steel and aluminium products respectively from a number of countries, including India. America had then stated that its tariffs are not a safeguard measure but taken under section 232 of the US Trade Expansion Act of 1962 on national security grounds.

This has since become a major bone of contention between India and the US, with New Delhi raising duties on 28 American goods. Both nations have dragged each other to the World Trade Organisation’s Dispute Settlement Body.

On the contentious issue of restoring trade benefits to India under the GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) scheme, the foreign secretary said, “GSP is something which is important for our industry, but ultimately it’s a matter for the US to take call on.”

As many as 44 US Congressmen have written a letter to the Trump administration seeking GSP’s restoration, which was revoked in June.

Also read: With UNGA & Howdy Modi lined up, India’s diplomatic ordeal on Kashmir isn’t over yet

Modi to meet Trump twice

During his week-long visit to the US, Modi will meet Trump twice — first in Houston for the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event and then in New York, before his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Gokhale said.

He added that the PM will be addressing two business meetings — one with top energy CEOs after he lands in Houston on 21 September and another with American corporate honchos in New York.

Some of the American firms that Modi will be addressing are Visa, Mastercard, Westinghouse, Amway, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Lockheed Martin, Schlumberger, JPMorgan Chase, Caterpillar and Google.

On 22 September, the PM will address a 50,000-strong Indian-American community in Houston. He will be joined by President Trump for the mega event. Modi will also be attending events on climate change and counter-terrorism in the US.

Also read: Jaishankar says US-India trade will reach ‘higher level’, hints at likely deal


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