Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis spent Wednesday and Thursday last week in official talks in India.
Ambassador Marantis met Indian Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar to discuss bilateral trade and investment issues, including U.S. agricultural and telecommunications equipment exports to India. (A Secretary in India is not a cabinet position but the senior-most civil staff member , usually from the elite Indian Administrative Service). Secretary Khullar and Ambassador Marantis also discussed preparations for the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum and high-level trade and investment dialogue scheduled for September in Washington, D.C. The TPF is aimed at further expanding job-creating opportunities in the U.S.-India relationship.
After meeting with Khullar, Ambassador Marantis met with Revenue Secretary Sunil Mitra to discuss Indian customs and tariff issues. Many American companies are eager to pressure India to lower import duties and to speed the passage of goods via customs.
I don’t expect any major announcements from USTR about progress with India at this time. Both the Indian and American sides are looking to line up a series of tangible but practical wins that they can announce when President Obama arrives in Delhi in early November.