India accuses U.S. of hampering trade

By agencies   |   Tuesday, 30 May 2006, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India met the U.S. trade delegation led by Karan Bhatia Monday and charged the U.S. of blocking bilateral trade and investment.

Defending the policy flexibility, India informed Bhatia of the stalled progress of ICICI’s new branch at New York and the pending applications of State Bank of India to open a branch at Jackson Heights in New York and Bank of Baroda in Houston, Texas.

With the RBI being extremely flexible with foreign banks operating in India and not exercising much control on their opening of ATM’s, an official stated, "You can't have a situation where the USTR tells us that a particular issue is the Federal Reserve or the treasury department's domain, while we are expected to roll out the red carpet and offer single window assistance.”

Minister for Commerce and Industry, Kamal Nath, pointed out to Bhatia that though Washington agreed to import Indian mangoes, the process would take 18 months, which is a very long span. The U.S. was charged of being self-centered by removing Pakistan from their interest list for their own convenience and letting things happen at their pace as per their choice.

On the issue of wheat exports, New Delhi stated that some of the issues put forth by the U.S. have been addressed while others could not be altered due to domestic environmental concerns. India also threatened to approach the WTO because of increasing transaction costs of shrimp export after the U.S. changed the bonding norms for shrimps, jewelry and gems.

After the meeting, Bhatia said India must reduce its trade barriers and import duties to increase bi-lateral trade. He also sought India’s support to further negotiations at the WTO.

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