Washington: US trade representative Susan Schwab is to make her first trip to India next week in a bid to step up bilateral trade and investment between the two large democracies.
She will co-chair a ministerial-level meeting of the US-India Trade Policy Forum with India’s minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath during her visit from 12-15 April, her office said in a statement.
“The U.S. and India maintain one of the world’s fastest growing major bilateral trade relationships and are committed to a goal of doubling bilateral trade to approximately $60 billion (Rs2,57,100 crore) by 2008,” the statement said.
At the Trade Policy Forum, Schwab will discuss “initiatives to strengthen bilateral trade ties and achieve progress in the areas of agricultural trade, investment, trade in services, reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers and boosting innovation and creativity.”
The forum was launched during Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh’s visit to Washington in July 2005 when he and US President George W. Bush agreed to a landmark civilian nuclear deal.
Under the deal, which Bush signed into law in December (still to be discussed for final US Congress approval), the US would provide nuclear technology and fuel to India.
While in India, Schwab will hold discussions with senior Indian officials on the Doha Round of global trade liberalization talks and “do a stocktaking of progress” in an effort to devise new world trade rules.
WTO officials are pushing for a breakthrough in the talks before the expiry of Bush’s fast-track Trade Promotion Authority on 1 July.
India says it rejects any deadline for completing the Doha Round talks and sees no breakthrough unless rich nations address the livelihood concerns of developing countries.