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Joint Press Briefing by Foreign Secretary Mr. Shyam Saran and US Under Secretary for Commerce Mr. David McCormick at the conclusion of 4th Round of Indo-US High Technology Cooperation Group


New Delhi
December 1, 2005  

OFFICIAL SPOKESPERSON (MR. NAVTEJ SARNA): Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Let me welcome you to this press interaction at the conclusion of the fourth round of the High Technology Cooperation Group co-chaired by Foreign Secretary Mr. Shyam Saran and Mr. David McCormick, Under Secretary for Commerce of the United States. We will first request the Under Secretary for Commerce to kindly make his opening remarks. 

Mr. David McCormick: Thank you. 

Thank you Mr. Secretary, for your kind hospitality for what I think has been a very productive several days here, first with the industry-to-industry discussion at the High Technology Cooperation Group yesterday and the Government-to-Government dialogue today. We have had the opportunity to review the really extraordinary progress that has been made over the last several years through the High Tech Cooperation Group, and also, and I think perhaps more important to talk about the future, in how we can continue to build on the momentum from the joint announcement and continue to focus on the High Tech Cooperation Group agenda on the very important opportunities in high-tech cooperation between India and the United States. 

Since the High Tech Cooperation Group was started in the late 2002, the India-US bilateral trade has grown by about 20 per cent per year. The US exports to India have doubled from roughly four billion dollars in 2002 to roughly eight billion dollars in 2005. Trade in dual use items has grown close to 300 million dollars. Trade in controlled munitions has been about a billion dollars over that three year time period. So, (there has been a) significant expanded growth in the trading relationship. 

This is the fourth High Tech Cooperation Group meeting. This is, of course, my first as the new Under Secretary. But having had a chance now to review the progress, the particular progress in the last year is quite impressive. As of today, only about one per cent of US exports to India require a licence. So, they are in fact controlled, only one per cent of that roughly eight billion dollars that I mentioned. The process time for those licences has been reduced by 25 per cent in the last year or so to roughly 34 days. During that same time period the approvals for the licences that are submitted were about 90 per cent. So, we clearly have a trend here. We are making significant progress in dual use technology being exported to India. More than half of the value of the controlled dual use trade in India no longer requires a licence. We see, not only in this most recent set of meetings but also in a number of measures in a variety of ways, continued private sector interaction across the key areas that are the focus of the High Tech Cooperation Group to include defence trade, to include biotechnology, information technology and nano-technology. 

So, I think from these several days we have much to do, much opportunity for continuing to push the agenda forward and much to be proud of in terms of the progress made today. 

Again, thank you Mr. Secretary, for your hospitality. We look forward to working with you in the future. 

FOREIGN SECRETARY (SHRI SHYAM SARAN): Thank you very much. 

First of all, let me begin by once again welcoming this opportunity to have this very productive interaction with Under Secretary McCormick. I welcomed him in his new position as Under Secretary for handling a very critical area of US-India interaction. I am very happy to say that the tradition that we have established with his predecessor Mr. Ken Juster, that particular tradition has been not only taken forward but even strengthened in the meetings that we have had over the last couple of days. 

David, you have already given us a very good account of how the removal of some of the restrictions has made a difference to our trade in high technology products. This is a very significant development in our relations. The discussions that we have had over the past couple of days have opened up new opportunities for our cooperation in these very important high technology sectors. 

There is a US-India Joint Statement on the results of the meeting that we have had and this will be circulated to all of you. So, I will not go into those details. But let me just recall for you that, as you know, the High Technology Cooperation Group works in four different areas currently. This includes defence technology, biotechnology, information technology as well as the new frontier area of nano-technology. We have had in the last couple of days, both industry-to-industry and Government-to-Government interaction. This time we were very happy to receive a rather high-powered industry delegation from the United States. We had very good participation by Indian companies as well. 

Then, today we have had the Government-to-Government session. After the plenary that we had in the morning, there were breakout sessions amongst the different groups. A number of recommendations have emerged from these meetings. 

Let me just give you a flavour of what we have been able to do. On defence technology we had a very intensive dialogue on best practices, particularly on offsets. We also agreed to identify practices and mechanisms for efficient licensing, for major joint projects to ensure that this does not become an impediment for cooperation. Then we have also agreed to use Government and industry interaction to gain better appreciation of life cycle costs. 

Then we come to information technology, which is really our star performer as far as our cooperation is concerned. We both agreed to explore collaborative projects in the field of tele-medicine, e-health, then also do joint work on bio-informatics and computational biology and also to start now working on higher end R&D because much of the work so far has been focused on data processing. But we are now looking really at more sophisticated areas of collaboration between our two sides. 

In biotechnology we have agreed, just as we did on the defence side, to establish a private sector working group on biotechnology so that we can really advance our agenda. We have also agreed to establish a pilot project in ports, airports in India for employing best practices in the supply chain integrity of biotech products. This is something which will be very important in terms of promoting trade in bio products. 

Then, on the very important area of nano-technology, which is really an area where India is very keenly interested, we have agreed on an Indo-US nano-tech collaborative programme for long-term basic research and application in nano science and engineering. This will focus on sectors such as nano materials, nano devices and nano systems. 

We have also suggested, in fact, Science and Technology Minister Mr. Kapil Sibal has suggested that perhaps we could create a joint fund between India and the US to conduct the industrially relevant R&D in this particular sector of nano-technology. That is something that we will discuss further. This is in terms of the results that we have achieved in the different areas. Really we have set the stage for a much more intensive collaboration between the two sides. 

As you are aware, the HTCG also works very closely with other related mechanisms that we have such as, for example, the Joint Working Group on Civil Space Cooperation, the India-US Cyber Security Forum, the Economic Dialogue, and the Defence Policy Group as well. So, these also become inputs for the work that we have been doing. All in all it has been actually a very satisfying set of meetings that we have had in the last couple of days. 

I would like to just conclude by once again expressing my very deep gratitude to David for the very positive and enthusiastic spirit with which he has approached our deliberations over the last couple of days. We really look forward to working together in the months to come. 

I would also like to express our thanks to all the participants, both from the US side as well as from the Indian side who have worked very tirelessly over the last couple of days. Delegation members from Government, delegation members also from the industry, have ensured that this has been a very very productive session. 

Once again, thank you very much indeed. 

QUESTION (AMIT BARUAH, THE HINDU): …(Inaudible, on space cooperation between India and US)… 
FOREIGN SECRETARY: As far as the space cooperation is concerned, we have already received a draft of the Technology Safeguard Agreement which is being examined. We hope to be able to conclude that fairly soon. On the commercial space launch agreement, a draft is expected. This is something that I did mention today with that we need to move a little faster on that. So, as soon as we have that draft, we will hope to conclude that agreement as soon as possible. 

As far as the Chandrayana package is concerned, my understanding is that whatever pending issues were there, have been resolved. So, the way is open for that package to be carried by Chandrayana. 

QUESTION (MR. PRASANNAN, THE WEEK): …(Inaudible, on India-US defence cooperation )… 
FOREIGN SECRETARY: This is an area, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, which we have agreed needs to be discussed further. It is a somewhat complicated area and we need to look at some of the best practices in this regard. While we have had an initial discussion amongst ourselves we need to go further into this. But, what is important is that both sides have agreed that there are prospects for our joint collaboration, joint production, which we should actually be exploring. Perhaps, David, would you like to add something to this on off-sets? 

QUESTION : Just to take on from what Amit has said …(Inaudible)… 
FOREIGN SECRETARY: As you know, some of the entities have been removed from the list. My understanding is that with regard to the others a process of reviewing that is currently under way. We are also assured that with regard to whatever we agree upon in terms of Indo-US collaboration in space this would not be really an impediment.
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