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Indo-US trade issues get November deadline

The knotty trade and commerce issues that India and the US have been going back and forth on for months have now been given a new deadline: President Barack Obama’s India visit in November. Big numbers

business Updated: Sep 23, 2010 01:53 IST
Yashwant Raj

The knotty trade and commerce issues that India and the US have been going back and forth on for months have now been given a new deadline: President Barack Obama’s India visit in November.

It's not a deadline carrying a penalty of course. The two countries said in a joint statement on Tuesday they will “take concrete steps towards resolving several issues of concern” in the weeks before President Obama boards Air Force One for India.

“I feel that the US has seriously registered India's concerns,” Commerce Minister Anand Sharma told reporters after his meeting with the US trade Representative Ron Kirk. “The US strongly supports India’s rapidly growing economy and welcomes the significant opportunities this presents for jobs in America’s farming sector, manufacturers and service providers,” Kirk said.

But the context is the presidential visit, and the sudden shift into top gear. Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao was in Washington last week, to discuss Obama’s visit with state department officials and secretary Hillary Clinton. Now Sharma, and Defence Minister A.K. Antony is expected next week.

Are they all linked to the Obama visit? “Yes and no,” said an Indian official, adding, “some of these visits could have taken place anyway.”

But there is a build up underway, very clearly. The US-Indian Business Council, for instance, launched an initiative on Tuesday with the Confederation of Indian Industry to bring small and medium entrepreneurs on its radar, tying it to the visit.