US wants India to move forward on n-deal, Doha talks

June 10th, 2008 - 1:24 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 10 (IANS) The US wants India to quickly move forward on their civil nuclear deal, shoulder its “international responsibilities” as an important global economic power and stop being “a roadblock” in the Doha world trade talks. Washington also hopes India will make more progress in areas such as caps on foreign equity in retail, insurance, and financial services. It would like to see more protection for intellectual property, particularly in the life sciences, where India seeks to attract more investment.

“Indeed, we hope India will propel the bilateral relationship forward by working with us on a high-standard bilateral investment treaty,” US Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Christopher Padilla said here Monday.

The litany of demands came at a panel discussion on ‘US-India Synergy: Facing the Economic Challenges of the 21st Century’ at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

India’s high rate of economic growth and its growing middle class have placed additional demands on an already strained Indian power sector, he said.

“That is one reason we believe it is essential to quickly implement the landmark civil nuclear agreement with the United States and bring India into the international nuclear non-proliferation mainstream.”

“The benefits for India are clear, and we hope that India’s government will choose to move forward as quickly as possible to fully realise the potential of this historic agreement,” Padilla said. “It would be tragic for India to forgo this opportunity for a strategic partnership with the United States.”

Besides exhorting India to implement the nuclear deal, which has been stalled for nearly a year due to sustained opposition from the Indian coalition government’s leftist supporters, the US official accused New Delhi of being “a roadblock to success in the Doha negotiations”.

India is proof of the remarkable effects that opening up an economy can have on a country’s citizens, Padilla said. “So it is disappointing that India has been a roadblock to success in the Doha negotiations.”

India continues to insist that it and other developing countries be protected from any real market opening in industrial goods or agriculture or services, while it asks developed countries to do ever more, he said.

“The Doha Round negotiations are not a donor’s conference - they require major economic powers like India to step up and take responsible leadership, rather than working behind the scenes for Doha’s demise,” Padilla said.

The US is not asking that India and others open their markets to the same extent as developed countries. Yet so far India has resisted virtually all liberalising proposals in Doha, even those proffered by other developing countries, he said.

Dismissing the latest Indian proposal on formula cuts as a “complete non-starter”, Padilla said: “The time is fast approaching when India’s stance on Doha may result in the failure of the Doha Round.”

Referring to “the remarkable transformation occurring in India”, Padilla said: “But with rising economic power comes responsibility for playing a more central, constructive role in areas such as energy, food, and global trade.”

“India is now a global player and the time has come for India to bear a greater share of responsibility in addressing global economic challenges,” the US official said. “From energy security, to food shortages, to climate change, to global trade talks, India should be a constructive and proactive partner.”

Noting that India is the second largest rice producer in the world, the third largest wheat producer and the seventh largest corn producer, Padilla said New Delhi’s decision to impose certain export bans on non-basmati rice and edible oils had rattled international markets.

While export bans are designed to increase short-term food security, these policies make the situation worse, he said suggesting that export controls will “harm India’s neighbours and drive up world food prices.”

India has grown because it has opened its economy, Padilla said, hoping that New Delhi would continue to liberalise and integrate with the global economy. “Indeed, we hope India will propel the bilateral relationship forward by working with us on a high-standard bilateral investment treaty (BIT).

“BIT would complement India’s economic reforms and create a more welcoming climate for foreign investment.”

“India is now home to a cutting edge information technology sector, which has helped revolutionise the way global companies manage and operate their IT systems,” he said.

Indian multinationals such as Wipro, Tata, Reliance, and Infosys are now global players in sectors as diverse as IT, steel, consulting, and transportation.

Turning “to the ever-expanding web of interactions between our peoples,” Padilla said: “Millions of Indians now call America home and Indian Americans, such as Indra Nooyi of Pepsi and (Louisiana) governor Bobby Jindal are becoming important business and political leaders in our country.”

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