FICCI proposes five-point agenda for US-India ties

June 24th, 2009 - 10:31 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 24 (IANS) The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has proposed a five point agenda topped by “deepening of India-US nuclear cooperation” to take their bilateral relations to the next level.

“We want the US to engage India across fronts and not just business to business,” FICCI president Harsh Pati Singhania said Tuesday proposing the leading Indian trade body’s agenda at a seminar on “US-India relations: The Road Ahead” at the East-West Centre here.

While the United States was still India’s biggest trading partner with their bilateral trade growing from $13.5 billion in 2001 to over $41 billion in 2008, China was fast catching up with a trade of $38.5 billion, showing a growth of about 1500 percent over the same period, he noted.

Noting that high tech exports from US formed just 25 percent of its trade with India, Singhania proposed a move from a technology denial regime to a technology facilitating regime as the second point of FICCI agenda.

Thirdly, he suggested engagement of Indian Industry in President Barack Obama’s plans to spend larger amounts on infrastructure development, Information Technology and skill formation in the US.

Singhania also suggested engagement with Indian Industry in the US in the health care and software domains and finally engagement of Indian companies and government with the US in ushering in a second green revolution.

Turning to the World Trade talks, he said the trade body sought an early conclusion of the Doha round. “There can be a middle ground or a middle path,” Singhania said. “We believe it’s possible to do so.”

Thanks to a “fantastic tectonic shift” India will see immense development over the next 25-30 years and was all set to overtake France, UK and Japan by 2032, said FICCI secretary general Amit Mitra.

“You need technological power and we need to be your partner,” he said suggesting giving a push to “the frontier of innovation as partnership between the two countries. Because that’s where we think, big business lies on a sustainable basis.”

Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar said that the India-US bilateral relationship was at an important juncture with both countries committed to taking this relationship to a new level.

Urging US companies to take advantage of the huge infrastructure development programme that the Indian government proposed to undertake, she stressed the need for more engagement in various sectors including education, healthcare and high technology.

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

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