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India and United States discuss Key Trade Issues


Washington, DC
February 22, 2008

Minister of Commerce and Industry Mr. Kamal Nath and U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab Pursue Opportunities for Enhancing Trade and Investment Ties between the U.S. and India

Minister of Commerce and Industry Mr. Kamal Nath met U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab and in Chicago on February 19 for the fifth ministerial-level meeting of the United States-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF). The intensity of interaction within the different Focus Groups demonstrates the importance of this dialogue to both governments. Consequently, the TPF has been able to address a wide range of issues, at policy as well as operational levels, leading to a number of initiatives which have expanded and deepened ties. 

”The U.S. – India Trade Policy Forum offers an essential venue to move the dialogue forward on trade matters of importance to both countries,” said Ambassador Schwab. “The Trade Policy Forum has advanced discussions on a potential bilateral investment treaty and facilitated agreements to provide market access for items of interest to both sides.” 

Minister Nath said, “We have been able to resolve a variety of issues and find mutually acceptable solutions through a dialogue under this Forum. This milestone by milestone approach should be maintained to ensure continued progress, including in our bilateral discussions on Social Security totalization which were initiated in December 2007, and in our efforts to foster private sector collaboration between professions.”

The delegations also met for the second time with the U.S.-India Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) to the TPF. The PSAG presented its Vision Statement on key policy areas on which the Governments of India and the United States could enhance their engagement and further bolster the U.S.-India economic partnership (see attached). The PSAG’s first meeting took place in New York on September 24, 2007.

On February 20, Ambassador Schwab gave keynote remarks at the “U.S.-India SME Summit: Leveraging Global Supply Chains and Integrating the SME Community,” hosted by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the National Association of Manufacturers. 

On February 19, Minister Nath and Ambassador Schwab both addressed a luncheon gathering at the Executives’ Club of Chicago and presided over the launch of “Investing in America: The Indian Story,” an initiative by the USIBC and the FICCI. 

Minister Nath and Ambassador Schwab also discussed the Doha negotiations, agreeing that the U.S. and India share a commitment to conclude a successful Doha Round in 2008. 

BACKGROUND:

The United States-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF) is an institutional arrangement between the two governments to discuss trade and investment issues. The TPF is a key element of the U.S.-India Economic Dialogue, which was launched during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to Washington in July 2005. The last TPF meeting was held during Ambassador Schwab’s visit to India in April 2007.

Ambassador Schwab and Minister Nath announced the formation of the Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) in April 2007. The PSAG was created to provide strategic direction to the TPF as the United States and India chart a path for enhanced U.S.-Indian economic integration in the next five to ten years. The PSAG’s membership includes key voices in the United States and India on international economic and trade policy. U.S. representatives include: Ambassador Carla A. Hills, Former U.S. Trade Representative, and currently Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hills & Co.; Mr. C. Fred Bergsten, Director of the Pete G. Peterson Institute for International Economics; Mr. John J. Castellani, President of the Business Roundtable; and Mr. Ron Somers, President of the U.S. India Business Council. Representatives from India include Dr. V. Krishnamurthy, Chairman, National Manufacturing Competitive Council; Dr. Isher Judge Ahluwalia, Chairman, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER); Mr. Sunil Mittal, President, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII); Mr. Habil Khorakiwala, President, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).


Trade Policy Forum Private Sector Advisory Group

Vision Statement

Relations between the United States and India are at an all-time high. People-to-people contacts proliferate; Indian students now number more than 80,000 at American universities and the Indian-American community – more than two million strong – ensures two-way family, cultural and touristic ties.

Commercial connections have expanded steadily since India began to open its economy in 1991. Services trade is especially robust, and exchanges of goods and FDI in both directions are accelerating.

But the trade and investment relationship has not reached a level either country finds satisfactory. Barriers to trade and investment in both countries remain.

For these reasons, the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) was established in 2005 by the two governments. Its purpose was to find ways to solve trade and investment problems between India and the United states. The Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) has been created by the US and Indian Governments to assist the Trade Policy Forum. It is an entity independent of the two governments whose purpose is to provide the TPF with counsel that will help propel closer economic and commercial relations between India and the United states. 

In fulfilling its purpose, the PSAG will strive to achieve the freest possible trade regime between our countries by securing a balance between ambition and realism. A long-term target should be to achieve the freest possible environment for trade, investment and technology transfer between our countries that opens the US and Indian economies on a comprehensive basis. In the meantime, there are many intermediate targets to be attained to create a solid foundation for a much closer trading and investing relationship between India and the United States.

To that end, the PSAG has identified the following intermediate targets for the two governments:

1. Negotiate a mutually agreeable Bilateral Investment Treaty by the end of 2008

2. Continue to promote sectoral openings

3. Promote regulatory cooperation

4. Cooperate on all aspects of protection of intellectual property and promotion of technology transfer
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