Washington, Jan 31:
The US says it strengthened engagement with India through the US-India Trade Policy Forum and secured the historic Trade Facilitation Agreement at the WTO after overcoming an impasse with India.
“In November, the United States with India and other WTO Members overcame an impasse in the Bali Package to allow the full implementation of a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA),” the US Trade Representative said in its yearend review.
“The TFA is the first multilateral trade agreement in the WTO’s 20 year history, and will reform global customs practices and substantially reduce the costs and time associated with goods crossing borders,” it noted
“The efficiencies generated by customs reforms in the TFA will significantly reduce the costs of trading for WTO Members, developed and developing countries alike,” the review said
Some estimates, it noted, suggest the global economic value of the new WTO deal could be worth $1 trillion.
The US had also strengthened engagement with India through the TPF, the premier bilateral forum for discussion and resolution of US and India trade and investment issues.
In November, USTR Michael Froman led a US delegation to the TPF in Mumbai, the review noted.
Earlier, in February, the US challenged before WTO India’s domestic content requirements for it National Solar Mission affecting US solar product exports.
In addition to the WTO consultations, the US has engaged India on its concerns regarding the NSM over the last three years, including in bilateral fora such as the TPF and the US-India Energy Dialogue, and at the WTO in various committees, it said.
The review said it had also prevailed on numerous Indian challenges to US countervailing duties to address what it called India’s “unfair steel subsidies.”
In December, the WTO Appellate Body rejected the vast majority of India’s appeals seeking additional findings on US regulations and determinations, it said.
The US had in October also prevailed against Indian ban on US agriculture products – such as poultry meat, eggs, and live pigs – allegedly to protect against avian influenza.
The US poultry industry, which directly employs over 350,000 workers and consists of nearly 50,000 family farms – had been particularly affected by India’s restrictions, the review said.
The WTO has agreed the panel report will be adopted or appealed in January 2015.
The review noted USTR had concluded an Out-of-Cycle Review of India to evaluate progress toward achieving meaningful, sustained and effective engagement on IP issues.
India, it said had made useful commitments, including to institutionalise high-level engagement on IP issues, to pursue a specific work programme and to deepen cooperation and information exchange with the US on IP-related issues under the TPF.
The US, the review said, looks forward to the 2015 Special 301 Review process, which will provide the next formal opportunity for a thorough review of India’s environment for IP protection and enforcement. (IANS)