US, India business leaders press for free trade agreement by 2015

June 25th, 2009 - 12:11 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 25 (IANS) US and Indian business leaders and policy experts want Washington and New Delhi to reach a broad-based free trade agreement by 2015.

“Both governments should devote priority attention on crafting a bilateral free trade mechanism relevant to the advanced technology sectors that is open to the participation of other countries,” they said in a new report.

Here are the other key recommendations of the joint task force set up by the Pacific Council on International Policy and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI):

Conclude an Investment Treaty

. Launch formal negotiations on an agreement to regulate the growing bilateral investment relationship.

Reinvigorate the Economic Dialogue

. A senior US official should be designated to work with New Delhi on defining a mutual vision for economic interaction in the years ahead.

. Both governments should undertake a comprehensive review of the export controls that still inhibit bilateral trade in high technology goods and services and develop a joint plan for their maximum-possible reduction.

Fully Implement the Nuclear Agreement

. New Delhi should open its state-owned nuclear energy establishment to private-sector participation and commit to definite policies regarding foreign involvement and investment, including the enactment of a civil nuclear liability law that would enable the full participation of US firms.

Positive-Sum Action to Expand the Global Talent Pool

. India should promote greater involvement by foreign educational institutions in addressing its human capital challenges.

. Besides allowing foreign universities to operate on their own, New Delhi ought to create a handful of experimental Special Education Zones in which US and Indian institutions run jointly-administered colleges and universities.

Enhance Science and Technology Cooperation

. Promptly draft a comprehensive roadmap for deeper science and technology cooperation, backed up with a sufficient level of funding specifically earmarked for bilateral projects.

Strengthen the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum

Incorporate India into Global Governance Structures

. Washington should champion New Delhi’s membership in the G-8 and in the APEC process.

Strengthen Energy and Environmental Cooperation

. The United States and India should revitalize their ministerial-level energy dialogue and charge it with drafting a detailed agenda to stimulate joint collaboration on energy innovation and coordination of research efforts.

. Washington and New Delhi should craft a bilateral agreement eliminating tariffs and other trade barriers on clean-energy technologies and services, promoting investment flows in this sector, and clarifying intellectual property protections and technology-transfer rights.

Launch the Second Green Revolution

. The United States should quickly renew its commitment to the Agriculture Knowledge Initiative, at a higher level of financial support and for a longer period.

. Washington and New Delhi should explore deepening the valuable linkages between American land-grant institutions and their counterparts in India.

Exploit Synergies in the Pharmaceutical Sector

. The United States and India should accelerate their harmonisation of pharmaceutical testing protocols and product standards.

. Both governments need to reach a stronger common understanding of intellectual property rights.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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