Source: Economic Times

Issues related to WTO, solar energy and visas are expected to figure at a meeting between senior trade officials of India and the US here tomorrow.

US Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan M Selig will meet Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia and also discuss ways to further enhance bilateral trade and investments.

The meeting will also prepare ground for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, planned for next month.

“This is also a preparatory meeting for the India-US Commercial Dialogue which is scheduled on September 22. All the issues such as trade facilitation agreement of the WTO among others would be discussed in the meeting,” an official said.

The US had filed a case in the WTO against India. It had alleged that India’s programme appears to discriminate against US solar equipment makers by requiring solar energy producers to use locally manufactured cells and by offering subsidies to those developers who use domestic equipment.

In a recent meeting between Teaotia and US Deputy USTR Ambassador Robert Holleyman last month here, India had pressed for setting up a high-level committee to look into a range of issues including American Totalisation and non-tariff barrier, as also the Social Security Act that discriminates Indians working in the US.

India had also raised the issue of high visa costs in the US which is impacting Indian IT professionals working there and market access issues of agrarian products including rice, mangoes, pomegranates and table grapes in the US.

India wants early conclusion of the totalisation pact or Social Security Agreement with the US. It aims to protect interests of professionals of Indian-origin who contribute more than US$ 1 billion each year to the US social security.

Under this pact, professionals of both the countries would be exempted from social security taxes when they go to work for a short period in the other country.

The India-US bilateral trade was US$ 64.26 billion in 2014-15.