India to seek greater market access for mangoes in TPF meet with US

The 14th TPF meet will be co-chaired by US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal here.

New Delhi: India will raise a number of issues with the US such as inking social security pact, and greater market access for mangoes in America during the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meet here on Friday, an official said.

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The official said India will also raise issues pertaining to delay in visa; increasing exports of table grapes, pharma goods, and marine products like wild caught fish and shrimp; reinstating the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) status to India; and export control regulations for high-tech products and technologies.

The 14th TPF meet will be co-chaired by US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal here.

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Social security, or totalisation agreement, is a long-pending demand of the country, as it will provide social security to Indian professionals in America. This would eliminate dual social security deduction, both in the home country and in the nation where an employee works.

Under this, an expatriate in either country need not contribute to the social security scheme of the host country.

It will benefit a number of Indians, particularly from the IT sector, who are working in America and paying social security but are unable to get any benefit out of it.

The official added that for the proposed agreement, the US had sought data from India about different social security schemes being implemented here and India has provided all the data from different ministries, including labour.

India has given them data about different schemes on social security like Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), New Pension Scheme (NPS), and Employees’ State Insurance Corporation.

India is also seeking fast-tracking American health regulator’s USFDA inspections, or audit of domestic pharma firms.

United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) approval is required to sell medicines in the US market. Before giving the approval, the USFDA authorities visit premises of manufacturing units for checking quality standards.

The official said during the meeting, the Indian side will raise the issue of fast-tracking USFDA inspections/audit of Indian pharma manufacturing units through digital or physical means to reach pre-pandemic level.

America is India’s top export market for pharma products with current exports (April-February 2023) of USD 6.79 billion, which is almost 30 per cent of the country’s global exports.

Following the outbreak of the pandemic, USFDA had stopped conducting inspections and audits in India for a long period, and resumed later, resulting in huge backlog, impacting product and unit approvals/renewal.

According to a marine exporter, the US feels that catching shrimps in the ocean impacts other species in the ocean and Indian fishermen has developed those fine quality nets which do not harm other species like turtles.

India wants the US authorities to expedite the process of inspecting those nets and allow exports of those fish and shrimps, the official said, adding that due to this India’s marine exports to America are getting impacted.

The last TPF meeting was held in Washington in January 2023.

TPF is a platform to resolve trade and investment issues between the two countries. It has five focus groups — agriculture, investment, innovation, and creativity (intellectual property rights), services, and tariff and non-tariff barriers.

The US is the largest trading partner of India. America accounts for about 20 per cent of India’s total exports in goods and is a key market for services sectors like IT.

The bilateral trade between the countries has increased to USD 129.4 billion in 2022-23 from USD 120 billion in 2021-22. India received USD 6 billion in foreign direct investment from the US in 2022-23.

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