Senator to push for India-U.S. trade expansion

Monday, 23 December 2002, 08:00 Hrs
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WASHINGTON: Senator Charles Grassley, incoming chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has promised Indian Americans that he will push for increased bilateral trade between the U.S. and India.

In a meeting with the U.S. India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), Grassley complimented them for playing "an important role in informing and petitioning elected officials about issues facing the Indian American community".

He indicated that the U.S. had made concessions on trade issues with other countries in the past and is prepared to continue do so in the future.

However, he qualified his statement by saying that while the U.S. is prepared to make sacrifices on global trade issues, as part of the leadership role that it plays, India, too, has to be prepared to make some sacrifices, the USINPAC said.

It is in the strategic interest of both countries to make such sacrifices, and promote trade as a means to producing greater harmony in the world, he added.

Senator Grassley was speaking at a "Breakfast on the Hill" event hosted by USINPAC, whose executive director Sanjay Puri urged all Indian Americans and friends of India to act on Grassley's recommendations.

USINPAC said it is scheduled to meet Senator Joe Lieberman, a leading Democrat who ran as vice presidential candidate in the 2001 elections with Al Gore, and is rumoured to be planning a run for the 2004 presidential election.

Others that USINPAC has scheduled meetings with include Representative Joseph Crowley, the incoming co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans in February 2003, and Senator Richard Lugar in March.

The group also raised the issue of several new bureaucratic procedures that have resulted in delays for granting H1-B visas to skilled, technical employees, which they said was seriously impacting the growth of advanced technology and pharmaceutical industries. Grassley said modernisation of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalisation Service was the best way to ensure streamlining the process.

The USINPAC, which was founded this year, also met Representative Robert Wexler, member of the House International Relations Committee and Judiciary Committee.

The group launched its "Power behind the Power" initiative, which involves a series of meetings with the staffers on the Hill.
Source: IANS
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