India and the US have agreed to consider establishing a joint committee on investment in manufacturing and work on advanced collaborative defence technology projects.
Describing defence relationship as a major pillar of India-US strategic partnership, the two countries have agreed to identify specific cooperative and collaborative projects in advanced defence technologies and systems, within the next year.
In a joint statement, issued on Friday after the Oval office meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama, the two leaders underlined the need for expeditious progress in resolving trade and investment policy issues of bilateral concern and pave the way for an improved business environment.
And an agreement on setting up a joint committee on investment in manufacturing was a step in that direction. The the statement said the leaders also committed their officials to work toward a successful outcome at the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference in Bali.
The PM and US President praised the contribution of the IT companies in bilateral trade which assumes significance in the backdrop of concerns the Indian IT industry have raised about certain provisions of the comprehensive immigration bill.
The bill aims to address the misuse of the popular work visa regime by illegal emigrants. The Indian side has been arguing that Indian IT professionals are temporary workers and not emigrants.
The proposed law says all companies with 50% or more employees from outside the US will have to pay a higher visa fee of $ 10,000 per worker. At present, the fee is $4,500, and it used to be $2,000 for H-1B and L1 visas till 2010.
Obama and Singh noticed that two-way trade has increased fivefold since 2001 to nearly $ 100 billion, and agreed that there are no insurmountable impediments to bilateral trade increasing an additional fivefold.
"Obama expressed confidence that the ongoing Indian economic reforms and policy measures to liberalise India's economy would accelerate economic growth, opening greater avenues for trade and creating jobs in both countries," the joint statement said.
Defence: Move to fulfill Vision 2005
Both sides stressed the intent to pursue defence collaboration as part of efforts "to work toward achieving the full vision of expanded defence cooperation set forth in the 2005 New Framework Agreement."
"Such opportunities will be pursued by both sides in accordance with their national policies and procedures, in a manner that would reflect the full potential of the relationship," said a US-India joint declaration on defence cooperation issued after the summit.
Noting that India-US "defence cooperation and engagement has increased significantly over the past decade, in step with the overall deepening of India-US relations," the two leaders endorsed several general principles for fulfilling the 2005 vision.
Topping the list was the principle that the US and India "share common security interests and place each other at the same level as their closest partners."
"This principle will apply with respect to defence technology transfer, trade, research, co-development and co-production for defence articles and services, including the most advanced and sophisticated technology," the declaration said.
Even as the two countries are committed to protecting each other's sensitive technology and information, "they will work to improve licensing processes, and, where applicable, follow expedited license approval processes to facilitate this cooperation."
The two sides also agreed to "continue their efforts to strengthen mutual understanding of their respective procurement systems and approval processes, and to address process-related difficulties in defence trade, technology transfer, and collaboration."