The United States said on Wednesday it will press India's new prime minister to end his blockage of a global trade pact when he visits Washington this month, something that could dampen the mood of a trip aimed at revitalizing strategic ties.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal said India "does itself a discredit" by blocking the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) reached in Bali last year, rekindling a dispute that overshadowed an Aug. 1 meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
In a conference call previewing Modi's Sept. 29-30 visit to Washington for a first meeting with President Barack Obama, Biswal said the World Trade Organization agreement to ease worldwide customs rules would "certainly" be a topic for conversation.
"We've made our position very clear, which is that while we are very sympathetic to the food-security concerns the prime minister has voiced, we do believe that the trade facilitation agreement is a very, very important agreement," she said.
In late July, India torpedoed the deal after demanding concessions on agricultural stockpiling.
Biswal said the stance "undermines India's interests as well as the interests of ... many developing countries and emerging economies.