O N Koul
In today’s world of globalization and free trade, no country of the world can remain in isolation if it wants economic, social, scientific, cultural and technological development and what not. With this in view India in the year 1991 opened up its economy to foreign multinationals and it made great strides in economic and industrial as well as cultural development. Protec-tionism is not needed while free trade is the modern mantra and thus there is no place for trade wars with other countries and more so with US. .India should ink a trade deal with America as it has a great potential for the development of the country. A trade deal with US will benefit India more than America and as such we should conclude a trade deal with US .But at the same time we should not compromise our vital economic interests while making a trade deal with America. During PM Modi’s September visit to America, US president Donald Trump made a sudden appearance at Howdey Modi event in Houston and it was expected that the two world leaders and heads of governments will conclude a trade deal but it was not so and the deal could not take place. However the two countries did not lose hope and in the subsequent visits there was a hope that the two countries will be nearer to a trade deal but it did not happen. It is not good and also not in the interest of the two countries that they did not close a trade deal. In mid-November India’s commerce minister Piyush Goyal visited Washington and had talks with the trade representatives of US but the trade deal could not finalize thanks to the rigid stand of the parties concerned. After this US trade delegation visited India and held discussions with Indian leaders and t it was seen as a possibility of trade deal and there were reports that there will be a big breakthrough in their talks and something positive will come out of the trade talks but this meeting also did not produce the required results.
When there is economic slowdown in the world economies a trade deal with US could give a good message to the world and investment will get a boost .It is pertinent to note that since India opened up its economy, the India -US bilateral trade has grown at a great speed .The trade in goods increased from dollar 5 billionin 1991 to nearly dollar 88 billion last year. In fact India was America’s 9th largest goods export market but it does not mean that there are no differences between the trading partners. US always voiced its concern on lack of adequate market accesses and protection of America’s intellectual property rights in India. These concerns have never become a wedge in the trade deal between the two countries except during presidential elections. President Bush had imposed tariff’s on Indian steal to attract voters ahead of the elections and Trumph has said that he believes that trade wars are good for US economy. The fact is that US is locked in a trade war with China ,Mexico and Canada. It has opened new trade fronts with other countries including India. In the mid of the year US administration intensed the trade dispute with India. It ended the Indian participation in generalized system of preferences which was a big favor to India and against it India raised tariff on 28 US goods but this trade war is not in the interests of the two countries especially India and thus the two countries should sit and remove the hurdles to free trade. The trade war is more against the interests of the Indian economy and all efforts should be made to ink a trade deal. But the talks are continuing and there are talks on tariff concessions on dozens of fruit and nut products. Inspite of this a measure challenge remains so for as the agricultural products are concerned. India should be flexible on its part and budge an inch or two for the sake of the trade deal with US as it will help India to a great extent and all that one can say is that trade wars are not in the interests of the countries and more so in the interest of India and therefore we should negotiate a trade deal with US at an earliest.
(The writer is a Columnist and Social Activist)
O N Koul