Hi-tech trade with India to grow regardless of n-deal: US

Friday, 29 February 2008, 14:38 Hrs
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New Delhi: The U.S. on Thursday said despite its restrictive export regime, high technology trade with India will continue to grow regardless of the fate of the nuclear deal.

"I am not making a hard connection between the nuclear deal and high technology trade. We are looking actively, constructively at expanding high technology trade with India," US Undersecretary for Commerce and Industry and Security Mario Mancuso told reporters here.

"We believe the civil nuclear deal is very important for the US and is in India's interests. (If the deal is completed), it will underscore the trust and depth of the relationship," he replied when asked if the nuclear deal was linked with the expansion of high technology trade with India.

"The civil nuclear deal is different. I would disaggregate 0.2 percent of high technology trade that is restricted to India from the nuclear deal," he said.

Alluding to a steady expansion in bilateral trade in high technology items that is now equal to 45 per cent of the $17 US exports to India, Mancuso underlined that the upward trajectory of the India-US relationship held prospects for further growth in the future.

The list of Indian entities in the US' restricted list that forbids the US doing business with them has also come down dramatically from 400 six years ago to 13, he said.

Pointing to the Validated End-User (VEU) programme, which was extended to India last year, Mancuso said the VEE would lift individual licence requirements on exports of US-controlled items to certain customers in India.

Mancuso is here to co-chair, along with Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, the sixth meeting of the India-US High Technology Cooperation Group (HTCG) that aims at providing a framework for promoting India-US high technology trade in sensitive and controlled items.

Speaking at the opening session of the meeting of the panel, Menon underlined India's record in non-proliferation and made a strong pitch for India's need to access high technology items that are denied to it under various export control regimes by the US.

"Regulatory framework and licensing procedures should stay in tune with the level of strategic partnership between India and the US," Menon said, while stressing on the need for a "steady, continuous interaction" between the two sides.

"We are situated as it is in the arc of proliferation," Menon said in a veiled reference to role of the A.Q. Khan network in Pakistan in leaking sensitive nuclear technologies.

"Our commitment to non-proliferation is second to none," he said.

"We are committed to streamlining regulatory framework to facilitate transfer of high technologies," Mancuso said.

Key Indian nuclear interlocutors have stressed time and again that the broader objective of the nuclear deal was to achieve dismantlement of larger technology denial regimes that was the result of India conducting a nuclear test first in 1974 and then in 1998.

The high technology cooperation group, which was set up in 2002, explores ways to identify and remove barriers to trade in biotechnology, defence, information technology and nanotechnology.
Source: IANS
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