US India trade barriers

US trade representative Karan Bhatia was in New Delhi last week for talks on the matter. Trade representatives from both sides had a meeting, which apparently was a failure.

I came to know about it from the newspapers. I am not an expert on trade barriers, but my wish to stay informed made me read multiple newspapers about what exactly the two parties talked.

Deccan Herald's report (May 30) almost had a tone supporting US charge that India must do more to reduce the barriers. Then I went on to Indian Express, and the headline itself – "US wants FDI restrictions to fade" – gave me a hint on the tone. Alright, I see the US side of arguments. And perhaps the Indian side had no counter arguments to offer.

Then I picked up Times of India, and noticed that they had a slightly lengthy article where they tried a balanced approach. It mentioned that applications from ICICI bank and State Bank of India to open branches in US have been pending for close to two years.

And then I thought about news floating around that Jet Airways efforts to fly to US stay grounded for over an year now. I recalled reading that for an Indian company, the process to export mangoes to US takes almost 18 months to complete.

Don't know if these too are examples of trade barriers. Not my cup of tea. But I was surprised to find one same event – a failed trade talk – covered in different ways by two newspapers.

Actually, when English newspapers discuss things like liberalization, privatization and FDI, most talk only about the pros. English media gives me the impression that we aren't doing a good enough job of opening up our economy. Fair enough, but why I do I see almost no one cover the other side of the picture at all?

Perhaps its the fear of being branded leftist.

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