US, India discuss how to bring down trade barriers

June 18th, 2009 - 11:07 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 18 (IANS) India and US will consult with public and private stakeholders on how to bring down trade barriers and open markets for exporters as they discuss multilateral issues like the Doha round of world trade talks even as Washington expects New Delhi to take “bold steps” on trade liberalisation and economic reforms.

Visiting Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and US Trade Representative (USTR) Ronald Kirk agreed on such consultations during a meeting Wednesday to discuss strengthening the bilateral US-India trade relationship.

“They committed to continuing high-level interactions on bilateral and multilateral issues - such as the Doha round of world trade talks - on multiple fronts, particularly the US-India Trade Policy Forum,” USTR’s office said.

“Both trade leaders will consult with public and private stakeholders on how to bring down trade barriers and open markets for exporters.”

Sharma and Kirk first met earlier this month at the 33rd Cairns Group Ministerial meeting in Bali, Indonesia, where they began work on strategies to enhance trade and investment flows between the US and India, and to facilitate greater commercial interaction between US and Indian companies.

Earlier, participating in a roundtable at the US-India Business Council’s “Synergies Summit” Kirk said the results of recent elections “give India’s leaders an opportunity to take bold steps and move forward with trade liberalization and economic reforms that will benefit both India and the United States.”

“The 420 million acts of democracy that took place when each of those Indians made their voice heard are as much a cause for celebration as the result.”

Referring to his meeting with Sharma at Cairns, Kirk said they had talked about “how the current economic crisis is affecting businesses in both our countries, our shared commitment to revitalizing the global economy, and our shared goal of opening up new opportunities for trade between India and America.”

Seeing an upside to the global economic downturn, Kirk said the recession offers “a unique opportunity” to show the benefits of free trade to sceptics.

Tough economic times mean free-trade advocates need to lend “a much more compassionate ear” to critics of free trade while continuing to extol its benefits, Kirk said.

He called for the US to work “thoughtfully” to remove trade barriers and pointed out that 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside the US, underscoring the futility of a go-it-alone approach.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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