The United States and India are working to complete a limited trade deal later this month. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will travel to India to finalize the agreement in the coming weeks. President Trump is expected to sign the agreement when he visits India around February 24-25, his first trip to India as president. The agreement should quell trade tensions between the two nations, which have been rising since they failed to reach a deal late last year.
The United States will restore India’s benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (“GSP”) as part of the deal. The GSP program eliminates duties on a range of products for certain developing countries designated by the United States. President Trump removed India from the program in June 2019, citing various trade barriers and market access issues faced by U.S. companies in India. India’s benefits under the program are valued at $6.4 billion.
Also as part of the deal, India will (1) remove price controls on medical devices, including heart stents and knee implants, (2) improve market access for agriculture and dairy products, and (3) add intellectual property protections. The agricultural products benefiting from greater market access include almonds, cherries, pork, hay, and dried grains. The benefits accruing to the United States from these commitments will match the $6.4 billion benefit India would gain under the GSP program.
Both sides hope to incorporate tariff reductions, which could include reductions for duties on U.S. information and communication technology goods and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. It is unclear at this point if U.S. duties on Indian steel and aluminum under Section 232 will be affected.
Although this pact is relatively limited in scope, it represents the first step towards a more comprehensive trade agreement between the two nations.