In fact, India has agreed to remove retaliatory tariffs on certain U.S. products, including chickpeas, lentils, almonds, walnuts, apples, boric acid and diagnostic reagents, that it imposed after Trump slapped duties on steel and aluminum imports using Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act.
“Today’s agreement represents the culmination of intensified bilateral engagement over the last two years, including through the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum, to deepen our economic and trade ties,” U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement. “As a result of our work, U.S. agricultural producers and manufacturers will now enjoy renewed access to a critical global market and we will strengthen our trade relationship with one of our closest partners.
USTR said the resolution “also maintains the integrity of the U.S. Section 232 measures.” That means India agreed to lift its trade retaliation without the U.S. altering the steel and aluminum tariffs that Trump imposed, a USTR spokesperson said.
In addition to the two cases related to Trump’s tariffs, the United States and India also agreed to terminate four other WTO disputes. Two of those had been filed by India and two by the United States.
That still leaves one filed by the United States in 2012 challenging India’s poultry trade barriers. However, one former U.S. trade official said he heard talks on that issue were continuing and a deal was still possible. The USTR spokesperson said he had “no news to share at the moment or preview beyond what we announced today.”
The two other cases terminated by the United States are a 2018 complaint against Indian export subsidies and a 2013 complaint against against Indian domestic content requirements for solar cells.
A joint statement issued by Biden and Modi also highlighted India’s interest in being reinstated in the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences program, which waives U.S. import duties on thousands of goods from developing countries.
Trump kicked India out of the program in 2019 on the grounds they were not providing sufficient market access for American goods. Biden and Modi agreed Thursday to intensify work on issues related to India’s eligibility criteria, the joint statement said.
The leaders also welcomed the initiation of talks on government procurement issues. That could lead to India’s designation as a “Trade Agreements Act” country, which would help its companies compete for U.S. government procurement contracts.
In another trade area, Biden reiterated his administration’s commitment to work with U.S. Congress to lower barriers to U.S. exports to India of high performance computing technology and source code.
Biden also invited Modi to attend as a guest the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which the U.S. is hosting in San Francisco in November. India is not a member of the 21-economy group, but has expressed interest in joining in the past. Biden is expected to travel to India in September for the G-20 leaders summit, which Modi is hosting this year.
POLITICO reported last week that there could be a package of agreements to resolve the WTO disputes. But Kirby dismissed that possibility Tuesday. “That’s not what this is about,” he said of Modi’s White House visit. “This is really about the strategic nature of the relationship and driving it forward.”
That ran against a previous pledge by Tai and Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, issued in January, to try to resolve the WTO disagreements in coming months. Tai and Goyal also met virtually last week to discuss bilateral trade concerns.
When asked about Kirby’s comments on Tuesday, USTR’s press office declined to clarify the situation.