21:41 GMT03 March 2021
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    Over the past year, India and the US have expressed that they could conclude a free trade agreement to broaden the scale of commerce and trade between the two countries. However, issues related to agricultural exports and tariffs on medicine remain major stumbling blocks between the two countries.

    India's Ministry of Commerce and Industry has stated that country is not engaged in any kind of negotiations with the US for a broader trade agreement. Minister of State of Commerce and Industry Hardeep Singh Puri, however, underlined that the two countries are making efforts to remove roadblocks in market access on some products.

    "India is presently not negotiating any free trade agreeement with the US, but was hitherto engaged with the US to arrive at a 'shared understanding' on some of the market access issues faced by exporters on both sides", Hardeep Singh Puri said on Friday in the upper house of parliament.

    There have been two engagements on the issue of market access held between India's minister of commerce and industry and the United States Trade Representative (USTR) since 2019.

    The minister also refuted reports claiming that the previous administration was pushing for a deal before the presidential elections in the US.

    Last month, America's envoy to India, Kenneth Juster, said he is disappointed that progress on a bilateral trade deal has stalled.

    The two countries had set a target to achieve $500 billion in bilateral trade by 2025 with the help of a free trade agreement between them. India has been negotiating a mini trade deal with the US since it withdrew from the China-led free trade agreement between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and six other nations - India, China, Japan, Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand last year.

    During his visit to India in February 2020, then-US President Donald Trump mentioned a mini trade deal by the end of 2020 to boost ties.


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