Clinton asks India to lower trade barriers


New Delhi : US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday urged India to lower investment barriers even as the two countries agreed to re-open negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty.

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“Each of our countries can do more to reduce barriers, open our markets, and find new opportunities for economic partnership,” Clinton, who is on a three-day visit to the country, said at a joint press conference with the External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna here.

The US-India trade in 2010 increased by 30 percent to $48.7 billion with the balance of trade in India’s favour to the tune of over $10 billion.

“Taking these steps is in our mutual interest. We can improve millions of lives and increase both of our nations’ economic competitiveness,” Clinton said at the end of the second edition of the India-US Strategic Dialogue here.

According to Clinton, the trade and investment ties between both countries are strong. She also welcomed growing Indian investment in the US.

“The United States is proud to be one of India’s largest trading partners and direct investor, and we welcome India’s investment in the United States, which is rapidly on the rise.”

According to a joint statement released by the two governments, negotiations for the bilateral investment treaty (BIT) would resume in August in Washington D.C.

“A BIT would enhance transparency and predictability for investors, and support economic growth and job creation in both countries,” the statement said.

The two governments will also meet in October to discuss ways of expanding trade ties through the US-India Trade Policy Forum.

Some of the important announcements, made during Clinton’s visit, pertaining to US-India economic ties include:

– Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement signed, allowing Indian companies to supply components to US aerospace sector

– The US government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) intends to infuse up to $820 million for renewable energy sector projects in 2011

– The Export-Import bank of the United States to step up funding in the area of clean energy and infrastructure development. Two loans worth $25 million announced for procuring solar equipment

– US Trade and Development agency to fund feasibility studies with combine worth $1.4 million for setting up two solar power plants.