India, US discuss ways of expanding high-tech trade

February 29th, 2008 - 10:05 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 29 (IANS) India and the US Friday discussed ways to expand high technology trade, with Washington indicating that strategic trade will continue to grow between them regardless of the fate of the nuclear deal. Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and US Undersecretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Mario Mancuso co-chaired the sixth meeting of the India-US High Technology Cooperation Group (HTCG) and discussed issues that continue to block India’s access to US high technology exports.

The Indian side made a strong pitch for bringing the US regulatory framework and licensing procedures relating to high technology exports in tune with burgeoning India-US strategic partnership, official sources said.

Menon underlined India’s record in non-proliferation and stressed the importance of US high technology exports to spur India’s development that in turn will help the nation achieve the larger goals of better life for its citizens.

Over the years, India’s high technology trade with the US has grown steadily which now accounts for 45 per cent of $17 US billion exports.

The US assured the Indian side that high technology trade will continue to expand despite the fate of the nuclear deal, sources said. The meeting focused on the areas of strategic trade, defence trade, biotechnology, information technology and nano-technology.

A joint statement on the progress in the high technology talks may be issued late Friday night or Saturday.

“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,” Mancuso told reporters here after an industry-to-industry meeting between the two sides Thursday.

“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 had said.

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.

The US extended the Validated End-User (VEU) programme to India last year, which is aimed at lifting individual licence requirements on exports of US-controlled items to certain customers in India.

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.

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