Kamal Nath to visit US to boost trade, talk Doha

June 10th, 2008 - 1:31 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 10 (IANS) India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath arrives here Wednesday to further boost commercial ties that have seen a three-fold growth in bilateral trade - to nearly $42 billion - in seven years. During his two-day visit, the minister would be meeting US Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer and Secretary of Treasury Henry M. Paulson.

He is also expected to meet US Trade Representative Susan Schwab to discuss how to take the stalled Doha round of world trade talks forward. He had met her last month in New York to resolve their differences over Doha.

Bilateral investments are increasing in both directions. Discussions have commenced on the possibility of concluding a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT).

Gutierrez visited India in February 2007 and Schwab in April 2007. Kamal Nath visited the US in February 2008 for the bilateral Trade Policy Forum meeting.

Kamal Nath will also participate in the Global Partnership Summit organised by the US-India Business Council, a business advocacy group seeking stronger commercial ties between India and the US, to mark its 33rd anniversary.

The theme of his session Thursday, which would be presented by TV show host Charlie Rose, is ‘India in the 21st Century - A Partner in Free-market Democracy’. The minister would conclude with remarks on ‘Aspirations for the India-US Partnership’.

Presided over by the new USIBC chairperson Indra K. Nooyi of PepsiCo, the summit will also honour Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairperson and CEO of Bharti Enterprises, Ustad Zakir Hussain, tabla maestro, and Kenneth Chenault, chairperson and CEO of American Express, for their respective contributions in bringing India and the US closer.

Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, CEO of UB Group Vijay Mallya, co-president of Warburg Pincus Chip Kaye and Greg Fleming, president and COO of Merrill Lynch are amongst those expected to attend.

Trade and commerce form a crucial component in the rapidly transforming and multifaceted relations between India and the US. From a modest $14.4 billion in 2000, bilateral trade in merchandise goods has increased to $41.6 billion in 2007, representing an impressive three-fold growth in a span of seven years.

India’s merchandise exports to the US grew at 10 percent from $21.8 billion in 2006 to $24 billion in 2007. US exports of merchandise to India increased from $10.1 billion in 2006 to $17 billion in 2007, an impressive 75 percent increase.

India retained its rank as 17th as source of imports but as a destination for US exports, it moved up from the 20th to 16th position. India has emerged as one of the fastest growing export markets for the US. During the first quarter of 2008, the exponential growth continued with Indian exports growing by 14 percent and US exports by 46 percent.

India’s major exports to the US include gems and jewellery, textiles, pharmaceutical products and electrical machinery. India’s main imports from the US are aircraft and aviation products, engineering goods and machinery, precious stones and metals and organic chemicals.

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