US wants to reduce trade deficit with India soon: Official

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Washington: The US wants to reduce its trade deficit with India as quickly as possible, a senior official told lawmakers here, asserting that the Trump administration is aggressively pushing New Delhi on the issues of medical devices, pharmaceuticals, dairy products and agriculture.

The President wants fair and reciprocal trade…when we look at India, there are three sectors where, I think, we can get a significant boost in our trade, Alice G Wells, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing yesterday.

When asked by Congressman Brad Sherman if the Trump administration has a target date to reduce this trade deficit, she said, We would like the trade deficit to be reduced as quickly as possible.

Wells identified defence, aviation and energy as the three sectors which would play a key role in reducing the trade deficit over the long term.

In aviation alone, Boeing estimates that over the next 20 years there is going to be USD 290 billion sales, Wells said, adding that India-US defence trade is expected to grow to USD 18 billion by 2019.

Last year, the trade deficit between the two nations was USD27 billion.

Wells said trade policy forum discussions are underway between India and the US, focussing on eliminating or reducing both the tariffs and the non-tariff barriers.

If our average tariff rate is about 3.5 per cent, India’s is over 13 per cent, she said.

Alleging India to be a more closed market historically, Wells said, We are pushing for medical devices, pharmaceuticals, dairy and agricultural products.

Replying to a query by Sherman on when US firms will be able to sell a nuclear power plants to India, she said, We continue to support Westinghouse bid (in this regard).

US nuclear energy powerhouse Westinghouse is engaged in negotiations to build six AP1000 nuclear reactors in India as part of the landmark US-India civilian nuclear agreement.

We having done the hard work of creating a basis for civilian nuclear relationship with India, having engaged seriously with it as they accede to the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Australia group, and hopefully in the future Nuclear Suppliers Group, we would like to see this also manifested in our commercial relations with India and we’re very supportive of US companies efforts, Wells said. PTI