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India minister says trade pact differences with US broadly resolved

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India's Trade Minister Piyush Goyal said on Monday that the broad outline of a trade deal with the United States has been worked out and suggested there could be an announcement soon.

[NEW DELHI] India's Trade Minister Piyush Goyal said on Monday that the broad outline of a trade deal with the United States has been worked out and suggested there could be an announcement soon.

The two countries have been locked in trade disputes for months, slapping higher tariffs on each other's products and the US withdrawing a key concession to India.

The collateral damage of the United States' trade wars is being felt around the world as President Donald Trump renegotiates relationships with many of Washington's top trading partners.

Washington has been concerned about Indian policies that mandate foreign firms to store more data locally and restrict the way US e-commerce giants such as Walmart-owned Flipkart and Amazon.com operate.

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Mr Goyal told a business conference that he was hoping to meet United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer soon.

"We have almost resolved the broad contours of what we are going to announce. I don't see any great difficulty in closing the gap on the first announcement," Mr Goyal said at the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF).

The deal under discussion includes lowering tariffs on US farm produce while giving Indian pharmaceuticals faster approval to enter the US market.

India dominates the world's generic drugs market and the United States is among its top importers.

"With regards to the trade talks between India and the US, Commerce and Industry Minister said that things are on the right track and India is looking to the US for technology, innovation, skills and quality education," a government statement quoted Mr Goyal as saying.

According to USISPF estimates, India-US bilateral trade is projected to grow to US$238 billon by 2025 from US$142.1 billion in 2018.

US trade and investments are expected to grow in sectors such as defence, commercial aircrafts, oil and LNG, coal, machinery and electronics.

India is aiming to promote automotive, pharmaceuticals, seafood, IT and travel services to the US market.

Mr Goyal said India and the US must look at a larger trade agreement, the government statement said. It did not elaborate. 

REUTERS