New Delhi: Recognizing India as a major player in the global trading system, United States Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab, said she looked forward to India’s increased participation in making the Doha Round a success.
“India is in a profoundly important position in these negotiations. The nature of its engagement will determine that of many other developing countries in the G-20 and G-33 groups that India helps to lead,” Schwab said, while speaking at the ‘Indo-US Trade and Investment: The Agenda for Growth’, an interactive session conducted by the Confederation of Indian Industry here on 13 April.
The Doha Development Round of WTO negotiations, which aims to lower trade barriers around the world, were suspended last July, as talks stalled over a divide between developed nations led by the European Union, the US and Japan and the major developing countries represented mainly by India, Brazil, China and South Africa.
Schwab stressed on the need to promote a common language on international trade and commerce, considering India and US are large democracies, with a strong middle class and millions of highly educated professionals.
“Underlain by a common faith in democracy and pluralism, in political and religious freedom, and in the rule of law, the US-India strategic partnership is strong and growing, with such notable recent accomplishments as the Civil Nuclear Agreement,” she said. “The US seeks to partner with India to our mutual benefit, to the benefit of our economies, our societies, and our global community.
“Although India maintains a significant trade surplus with the United States, US exports to India have grown by over two-and-a-half times in four years – from $4 billion in 2002 to more than $10 billion in 2006,” Schwab added. The total bilateral trade in goods rose to $32 billion and over $10 billion in services trade, the trade representative mentioned.
Referring to the Trade Policy Forum (TPF), established during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s 2005 visit to the US, Schwab said the forum is focused on removing tariff and non-tariff barriers, promoting agriculture, investment, services and innovation and creativity.
A private sector advisory group of US and Indian international businesses and trade experts has been formed to provide strategic recommendations and insights to the TPF, she announced.
“There will be greater flows of Indian organic products to the US now that these goods can be USDA (US Department of Agriculture) certified by Indian agents,” the ambassador said. “US almonds are now seen on Indian shelves, and in a few short weeks, Indian mangoes will enter the US market for the first time.”
Attracting attention to India’s decision to increase FDI in the telecommunications sector to 74%, Schwab pointed out that it has paved the way for US companies to contribute to India’s telecommunications infrastructure.
“We have received indications that the Indian government will accept Euro 3 standards for heavy motorcycles, creating an opportunity for a niche in the Indian market,” she added.
Indian Minister for Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath termed the development of a strategic partnership between India and US as a win-win situation for both the countries.
The growing partnership in areas like infrastructure, information technology, telecom, energy, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology signifies that the India-US relationship is at an all time high, the minister said.
“USA is India’s largest trade partner and foremost export destination accounting for 16.3% of India’s exports and around 6.34% of India’s exports. While the USA’s exports to India have grown by over 35% in 2005-06, India’s exports to US have shown a growth of over 26%,” he said.
“While in 2005-06 total foreign direct investments (FDI) in equity flow into India was $5.54 billion, it has gone up to $11.94 billion in the first 10 months of 2006-07,” Nath added. But the minister expressed concern that investments from the US are stagnating at a level for some years. India received FDI worth $5.7 billion from US till December 2006.