November 22, 2004
I wanted to give you some details of the meetings held in Washington on the 18th and 19th November in the High Technology Cooperation Group which was chaired by the Foreign Secretary on the Indian side and Under Secretary of Commerce Mr. Kenneth Juster on the US side. This was the third meeting of the High Technology Cooperation Group. It attracted a strong Government and industry participation, with more than 100 corporate participants and 35 representatives of Indian industry.
The meeting reviewed progress in cooperation in four sectoral areas of defence technology, advanced information technology, bio-technology and nano-technology. The structure was such that on 18th November public/private Dialogue took place, with keynote speeches by the two Co-chairs and Round Tables on specific subjects in the sectoral areas. The themes for the Round Tables were (a) defence technology cooperation including promotion of private sector; (b) data privacy in the IT sector, and (c) impact of Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) on US export licensing for India.
Industry response in the public/private session was very positive and enthusiastic. They recognized the rapidly improving climate for high technology trade and strategic commerce. The US side noted that dual use licenses for India had climbed from 423 in FY 2002 to 619 in FY 2003 and 912 in FY 2004. In value terms too, this trade has gone up from $26.78 million in FY 2002 to $90.06 million in 2004. The impact of the conclusion of NSSP-I was therefore immediately visible on the licensing statistics for the month of October 2004. 57 licenses were approved and 8 denied. 43 applications were returned as it was felt that licenses in these categories are no longer required. Most of these returned applications pertained to the Department of Space.
During this meeting recommendations were received from the Industry groups and Round Tables on steps to improve high technology trade. In the defence technology sector, industry felt that greater efforts needed to be made to explain the Indian procurement process and the US licensing process. Outreach activities needed to be worked out in this regard. In the field of data privacy, industry expressed interest in promoting a best practices exercise. It was agreed that a Data Privacy Forum will take place in India in 2005. US privacy experts will engage with their Indian counterparts in the context of their own multilateral contacts with APEC, OECD and EU.
In the next phase of discussions which were inter-governmental, these recommendations were considered and information was exchanged. There was agreement that the NSSP process had contributed to enhancing high technology trade through more efficient procedures, shorter timelines, more transparent documentation and more aggressive outreach activities. It was felt that HTCG events should be held on the sidelines of industry gatherings such as Aero India 2005, Bio-Tech India 2005 and IT Summit 2005. The US Government conveyed that a major export control, licensing and promotion event was planned to take place in India in June 2005.
In the defence technology sector the Indo-US Politico Military Dialogue was envisaged as a vehicle to promote agreed objectives. The merits of an Indo-US Joint Working Group were considered to enhance space cooperation. The Indian side also took up the matter of visa problems faced by Indian scientists engaged in bilateral cooperation programmes.
In general, the governmental discussions focused on promoting greater understanding and exchange of information in defence technology, building human capacities in nano-technology, addressing regulatory issues and market access problems in bio-technology and advancing the data privacy programme in information technology.