India and the United States on Monday decided to finalise three agreements, relating to trade and investment, intellectual property and traditional knowledge respectively, as the world’s two largest democracies took baby steps towards a formal a bilateral investment cooperation treaty.
United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk sought greater access to India’s financial services market.
Kirk is in the Capital in connection with the 6th ministerial-level meeting of the US-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF). He met Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma.
“The US has long sought greater access to the Indian market in financial services and goods and services and number of areas in which there are no differences,” Kirk said.
Sharma said the countries would formalise memoranda of understandings on trade and investment, intellectual property regime and traditional knowledge, which are considered crucial areas.
“We expect to sign the agreements soon,” he said.
The TPF was set up in 2005 to establish an platform between the two governments to discuss trade and investment issues. A Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) was formed in April 2007 as an adjunct to TPF, to provide the forum with views and advice from non-government trade and investment experts.
“We would also like to see more improvement and openness in the investment environment for US businesses in India,” Kirk said.
He said there should be increased focus on infrastructure, healthcare, education, information technology and energy.
Kirk said the issue of H1-B visas was discussed with the commerce ministry. “The US has taken the issue of H1-B visa issue seriously. I have pointed out that Indian information technology companies provide employment to over 300,000 persons in the US,” Sharma said.
“The two Governments signalled their readiness to continue their bilateral trade policy dialogue with renewed vigour under the five focus groups: agriculture, innovation and creativity, investment, services and tariff and non-tariff barriers, “ a joint statement issued after the meeting said.