Bilateral ties between India and the US have acquired “extraordinary momentum” driven by strong shared interests in promoting global stability, security and economic prosperity, India’s trade minister Piyush Goyal said at the India-US CEO Forum on Tuesday, ahead of his talks with US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross.

Talks between Goyal and Ross, which were to be held on Tuesday immediately after the event, have been rescheduled for Wednesday. Goyal is expected to discuss several issues, including the H1-B visa suspension, proposed totalization agreement, data localization and digital services tax. The long-pending India-US limited trade package may also feature during the talks, even though US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Goyal are expected to hold talks on the issue soon.

Secretary Ross said the challenging time of covid-19 is an opportunity to bring the two nations closer through collaboration in areas such as pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and associated supply chains.

Goyal stressed on the importance of small businesses for the economies of both countries and the need to increase employment and skilling in the sector. “He urged the Forum to be the leaders in charting out a new path in a post-covid world,” the commerce ministry said.

The CEO Forum, comprising CEOs from top Indian and American firms, is co-chaired by N. Chandrasekaran, chairman, Tata Sons and James Taiclet, president and chief executive, Lockheed Martin. This is the fifth chapter of the Forum, since its reconstitution in December 2014.

A set of reforms and policy recommendations crafted by CEO Forum members were presented at the meeting to boost bilateral investment opportunities across key sectors such as healthcare and pharma, aerospace and defence, infrastructure and manufacturing, entrepreneurship and small businesses, energy, water and environment, information and communications technology, and digital infrastructure.

Taiclet hoped the extraordinary cooperation between the two countries during the covid-19 pandemic would continue in areas of building infrastructure, increasing bilateral investments, and generating jobs. India co-chair Chandrasekaran highlighted the global efforts to rebalance supply chains, due to both geo-political- and trade-related issues and welcomed the opportunity to partner with the US private sector and government to help support and facilitate a strong pivot to India.

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