India-U.S. got to work on trade: U.S. official
Friday, 13 April 2007, 07:00 Hrs | 2 Comments
New Delhi: Announcing the formation of an India-U.S. Private Sector Advisory Group, a top American official said that the two countries have "got to work" on addressing the "numerous impediments" to their trade relations. "We have rolled up our sleeves and gotten to work. We need to address numerous impediments, synchronise standards, and protect public health, while keeping trade flowing. We seek to bring down tariffs and other trade barriers that stifle trade, increase production costs and raise consumer prices," U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab maintained. She was addressing an interactive session here on "Indo-U.S. Trade and Investment: The agenda for growth" immediately after co-chairing, with Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, a meeting of the India-U.S. Trade Policy Forum. The forum was established during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 2005 Washington visit as the primary mechanism for working together on the policies and regulations that will enhance the India-U.S. bilateral and trade investment relationship. The Private Sector Advisory Group takes the process forward. Made up of international business and trade experts of the two countries, it would provide strategic recommendations and insights to the Trade Policy Forum. "The membership of the Private Sector Advisory Group includes some of the most influential voices in the United States and India on international economic and trade and policy. Minister Nath and I look forward to receiving their guidance as we chart a path for our bilateral economic relationship," Schwab maintained. Speaking about the deliberations of the Trade Policy Forum, she said it took stock of progress and challenges in five areas of focus: tariff and non-tariff barriers, agriculture, investment, services, and innovation and creativity. There would also be greater flows of Indian organic products to the US as Indian agents could now certify these goods to American standards, Schwab pointed out. Then, the Indian government's decision to increase FDI in the telecom sector to 74 percent would open the way for partnerships with U.S. companies and fuel the continued growth of the sector."We have received indications that the Indian government will accept Euro 3 standards for heavy motorcycles, creating an opportunity for a new niche in the Indian market. If tariffs were to come down, trade in this sector would steadily begin to flow," Schwab pointed out. "As you can see, through the Trade Policy Forum and its various working level groups, we have created the architecture that will support a growing economic and trade relationship for years to come. That is, I believe a signal achievement and one that should be celebrated," she added. According to the official, the U.S.-India economic and commercial relationship "draws its strength from the growth of both of our economies. As India grows, for example, so does the performance and potential of our two economies, our two business communities, and our overall bilateral economic relationship". In this context, Schwab noted that although India maintains a significant trade surplus with the US, American exports to this country had grown by over two-and-a-half times in four years - from $4 billion in 2002 to more than $10 million in 2006. "Last year, total bilateral trade in goods rose to close to $32 billion. Bilateral services trade totalled over $10 billion. This year, total combined trade in goods and services could well surpass $50 billion. "This puts us well on the way to achieving the goal - endorsed last year by (US) President (George) Bush and (Indian) Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh - of doubling bilateral trade in three years," Schwab maintained.