Private sector for India-US investment treaty by year-end

February 23rd, 2008 - 10:57 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, Feb 23 (IANS) The US-India Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) has asked the two governments to negotiate a bilateral investment treaty by end of 2008 while continuing to promote sectoral openings. The group identified these among four key targets in a vision statement presented to Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath and US Trade Representative (USTR) Susan C. Schwab at a meeting of the US-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF) in Chicago Feb 20.

The other intermediate targets for the two governments were identified as promotion of regulatory cooperation and cooperation on all aspects of protection of intellectual property and promotion of technology transfer, according to statements released here Friday by Schwab and the Indian embassy.

“Relations between the United States and India are at an all-time high,” the vision statement noted. “But the trade and investment relationship has not reached a level either country finds satisfactory. Barriers to trade and investment in both countries remain.”

“In fulfilling its purpose, the PSAG will strive to achieve the freest possible trade regime between our countries by securing a balance between ambition and realism,” said the independent group created by the two governments to assist the TPF, formed in 2005.

“A long-term target should be to achieve the freest possible environment for trade, investment and technology transfer between our countries that opens the US and Indian economies on a comprehensive basis.

“In the meantime, there are many intermediate targets to be attained to create a solid foundation for a much closer trading and investing relationship between India and the United States,” it said setting the four intermediate targets.

Noting the growth of Indo-US ties, it said: “People-to-people contacts proliferate, Indian students now number more than 80,000 at American universities and the Indian-American community - more than two million strong - ensures two-way family, cultural and tourism ties.”

“Commercial connections have expanded steadily since India began to open its economy in 1991. Services trade is especially robust, and exchanges of goods and FDI in both directions are accelerating,” it added.

The PSAG was created in April 2007 to provide strategic direction to the TPF, an institutional arrangement between the two governments to discuss trade and investment issues, as the two countries chart a path for enhanced economic integration in the next five to 10 years.

The PSAG held its first meeting in New York on Sep 24, 2007. Its membership includes key voices in the US and India on international economic and trade policy.

US representatives include: Carla A. Hills, former USTR and currently chairman and CEO of Hills & Co.; C. Fred Bergsten, director of the Pete G. Peterson Institute for International Economics; John J. Castellani, president of the Business Roundtable; and Ron Somers, president of the US India Business Council.

Representatives from India include V. Krishnamurthy, chairman of the National Manufacturing Competitive Council; Isher Judge Ahluwalia, chairman of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER); Sunil Mittal, president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII); Habil Khorakiwala, president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

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