US Trade Rep urges India to consult the US on import rules for laptops, PCs

The US wants India to keep it informed on “implementation plans” for its import management system for computers and tablets going forward and also hold communication with all stakeholders, while the plans were being formulated, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai has said.

At the 14th India-US Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meeting in New Delhi, Washington agreed to work together with India in the area of critical minerals, enhance market access for agricultural products like table grapes, mangoes and nuts, move forward on the long-proposed bilateral social security totalisation agreement and help to ease visa woes of Indian businesses.

Electronics import

“On the laptop import licencing issue, we had some good and candid conversations. The focus of the conversation was that as India implements the system that it is putting out, it remains committed to consulting with us not only on a government-to-government basis but also consults and notifies stakeholders about what its rules are going to be and its impact…and invite feedback,” Tai said at a select media briefing in New Delhi on Saturday, a day after co-chairing the TPF meeting with Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.

India adopted a new `import management system’ for monitoring shipments of electronics such as computers, tablets and servers since October 1 2023, under which importers have to apply to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade for automatic import authorisations.

While in the joint statement issued after the TPF meeting, the US welcomed the implementation of the import monitoring system in a “facilitative” manner, it said that it wanted to ensure that the end-to-end online system currently in operation and related policies do not restrict trade going forward.

As the current system of issuing import authorisations is till September 30, 2024, Washington is keen to be in the loop while the future rules are being finalised. “We want to reinforce… let’s be in good communication as you are developing your plans so that we the public, your partners have a sense of what is coming next,” she said.

Social security pact

On India’s submission of documents to the US on its social security schemes so that the two countries could work on a social security pact, Tai said that her government received the information just before the TPF and the data was yet to be analysed. “ We have the information and the ball is back in our court, but it has just landed in our court. So there is a lot more work to do,” she said.

An India-US social security pact will exempt short-term visa holders from contributing to social security in the other country and would be particularly helpful to Indian IT companies saving them an estimated $4 billion in annual contributions.

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