India, US to discuss bilateral investment treaty

June 16th, 2009 - 8:01 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 16 (IANS) Ahead of a meeting with Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, the US has declared its commitment to enhancing dialogue with India on key trade policy issues, including a bilateral investment treaty.

US Trade Representative Ron Kirk will discuss these issues with Sharma during a roundtable at the US-India Business Council’s Synergies Summit here Wednesday.

“Kirk is committed to enhancing the US-India trade relationship by fostering enhanced dialogue on important trade policy matters including a US-India Bilateral Investment Treaty,” the USTR’s office said in a statement.

Noting that India is an important trade partner for the US, it said one way that the USTR is working on growing trade and investment links with India is through the Trade Policy Forum (TPF).

India is currently America’s 17th largest goods trading partner with $44.4 billion in total two-way trade during 2008, and the US is one of India’s top investors. Services trade in 2007 was a 50:50 share of the total $19 billion in two-way trade.

The TPF was launched in 2005 and is broken down into five main areas: agriculture, investment, innovation and creativity (intellectual property rights), services, and tariff and non-tariff barriers. US and Indian focus group chairs regularly meet to discuss and resolve issues related to these areas.

A Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) was created in 2007 and is composed of US and Indian trade experts. These experts provide strategic recommendations to the TPF including on financial sector reforms, energy cooperation, higher education, and globalisation and inclusiveness, all with a mind to enhance the bilateral trade relationship.

In 2006-08, the White House led an Economic Dialogue, which served as the government-to-government forum on bilateral economic issues, was the umbrella mechanism for the Trade Policy Forum and several other bilateral dialogues led by other agencies.

The CEO Forum was the private sector arm of the Economic Dialogue and comprised CEOs from the US and India - representing a cross-section of sectors - who exchanged business community views on a number of key economic priorities.

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