There was an informal tele-conversation between Mr. Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce & Industry and Railways, and Mr. Wilbur Ross, U.S. Secretary of Commerce on 16 July 2020, a day after the India-U.S. CEO Forum which was held on15 July 2020.
At the outset, both the principals exchanged pleasantries, and discussed the Covid-19 situation in both the countries and appreciated the cooperation between India and the USA, the largest and oldest democracies of the world, in fighting the pandemic.
The principals also conversed on the ongoing India-USA trade discussions and appreciated the substantial progress made by both sides on most of the outstanding issues. There was a desire expressed to conclude this initially limited trade package and recognizing the complementarities of the India-USA bilateral trade, discussed the possibility of an FTA.
In response to Minister Goyal’s concern on USA keeping certain Indian products (24 items) under TVPRA (Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act)’ list and designating them as ‘child labor sectors’; thereby denying them the opportunity to participate in supply contracts of U.S. government agencies, Secretary Ross offered to set up a meeting between the labor department officials of both sides.
Minister Goyal also flagged the pending ‘US-India Social Security Totalisation Agreement’, which had been also discussed during the visit of President Trump to India in February 2020. While appreciating India’s concern, Secretary Ross mentioned that the statutory requirements of the U.S. have to be fulfilled by India in this regard. He offered to arrange a meeting between U.S. Social Security Administrator and concerned Indian officials to discuss and find a possible solution.
Minister Goyal also raised a concern on the ‘U.S. ban on import of wild catch shrimp from India’ on the premise that fishing practices followed in India were non-compliant with US regulations to protect sea turtles. He mentioned the various conservation measures taken by Indian maritime states in protecting the sea turtles. Secretary Ross appreciated India’s concerns and agreed to facilitate a discussion between the officials of U.S state department and the Office of Marine Conservation with the Indian Department of Fisheries and Ministry of Forest and Environment, in this regard.
In conclusion, Minister Goyal and Secretary Ross thanked each other and expressed their resolve to work together to further strengthen the trade and economic ties between India and the USA.