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India-US mini trade deal: Low duty on medical devices; pact in final stages

The mini trade deal being worked out between India and the United States is likely to see a reduction in customs duties levied by India on import of advanced medical devices from the US. Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Ambassador of India to the United States says that the mini deal is in the final stages and medical device is one of the sectors that is being included in the discussion.

Addressing the members of industry chamber FICCI in a webinar on ‘India-US partnership in global value chains’, Sandhu said that inclusion of medical devices in the mini trade deal will have ‘win win benefits on both sides’. “This is already work in progress. Perhaps it is in final stages. We are waiting to hear from the US side and hopefully, once the small trade is concluded, your area (medical device) will be part of it”, he said, as reply to a query from one of the industry participants.

The participant had raised the issue of high customs duties on medical devices, and asked whether Sandhu foresaw anything that would help US-based manufacturers of advanced medical technology to increase their presence in India in the near future.

Earlier, talking about , Sandhu said that the bilateral relationship has been broad based and multi-sectoral.

According to him, India-US has been increasingly engaging in sectors such as defence, security, energy, trade and investment, education, science and technology, cyber security, space technology and applications, clean energy, environment, agriculture and health among others in the recent years.

Pointing out that the India-US bilateral trade has witnessed double digit growth in the last three years and become more balanced, he said that in the last four to five years, just four sectors – energy, civil aircrafts, defence and higher education – have contributed to about $70 billion to bilateral economic relations.

“Our bilateral trade has been growing on 10 percent on year to year basis for the last 10 years. It touched almost $115 billion in 2019,” he said.

According to him, the first step to realise the real potential of India-US trade relationship is to conclude the ongoing trade negotiations. “It could become Phase I of a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement that would reflect the full potential of the bilateral commercial relations in increasing bilateral investments and job creation in both the countries,” he said.

Sandhu highlighted healthcare and medical research, higher education, technology collaboration, and coproduction of defence technologies as key to bilateral relationship.

“Besides defence, energy partnership is also encouraging. US has become an important source of oil and gas for India. In the last four years our total energy trade has soared to $20 billion. Clean energy is another core priority where we have set an ambitious agenda,” he said.

The Ambassador also said that India’s New Education Policy (NEP) offers tremendous scope for bilateral collaboration. “The new education policy is very timely. We are welcoming important universities to establish and collaborate with their Indian counterparts. I have been speaking to a number of governors because many of the universities are very closely associated with the states. We are also writing to the presidents of all major universities to bring in to their attention our new education policy,” he said.  – Business Today

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