India, US to work for balanced Doha outcome

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington: India and the US have agreed to work in six key areas including trying to reach “a balanced and ambitious outcome in the Doha Development Agenda” under a new set of rules of commercial engagement.

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Signed here Wednesday by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and US Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk, the “Framework for Cooperation on Trade and Investment” is aimed at facilitating trade and investment flows between the two countries.

In the first major step taken under the Framework, Sharma and Kirk also announced the launch of an initiative called “Integrating US and Indian Small Businesses into the Global Supply Chain.”

This is intended to expand trade and job-creating opportunities for US and Indian companies, big and small, and will directly support both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recently introduced budget objectives and President Barrack Obama’s National Export Initiative, officials said.

By signing this accord “we want to create the right environment to ensure that the relationship brings maximum benefit to the maximum number of people. We will do so by promoting inclusive growth”, Sharma said.

Kirk said: “There is almost limitless potential for growth in trade between our two countries, and that can contribute to economic recovery and job creation in the United States and continued economic growth in India.”

Under the pact, five focus groups set up under their Trade Policy Forum “will strive to overcome impediments to bilateral trade and investment between the United States and India”.

Apart from trying for a balanced and ambitious outcome in the Doha Development Agenda, the two sides will also work for increasing opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises in India and the US to expand ties, enhance participation in global value-chains, and export to and invest in each other’s economies.

The Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers Focus Group has been tasked with promoting policies to expand market access, including adopting transparent, WTO-consistent policies governing tariffs, standards, customs valuation, licensing and other non-tariff regulations.

Similarly the Agriculture Group would work for “adopting and applying transparent, WTO-consistent policies governing trade in agricultural products, including science-based, sanitary and phytosanitary policies, a set of WTO rules to ensure food safety.

The Innovation and Creativity Group has been asked to work for Improving intellectual property rights protection and enforcement, enhancing awareness of intellectual property rights, fostering innovation and creativity, and increasing collaboration between US and Indian innovators.

The Investment Group would work for providing an open and predictable climate for bilateral investment and increasing opportunities for private investment across economic sectors, including in projects to support India’s infrastructure goals.

The Services Group has been tasked with promoting areas of cooperation that enable services trade, including bilateral cooperation, trade and investment in the information and communications technology, education, environmental and energy services and healthcare sectors.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])