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Kerry, Sushma hold talks today: A look at what’s on the agenda

US secretary of state John Kerry and US commerce Penny Pritzker will co-chair the annual India-US strategic and commercial dialogue with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

india Updated: Aug 30, 2016 11:13 IST
Jayanth Jacob
India-US talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry addresses a news conference in Kenya's capital Nairobi.(Reuters file)

US secretary of state John Kerry and US commerce Penny Pritzker will co-chair the annual India-US strategic and commercial dialogue with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Here are the key issues on the table:

NSG bid

India would make a strong push for greater support from the United States in getting a membership to the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) during the dialogue that would also focus on business ties, defence cooperation and clean energy initiatives. The NSG bid is closely linked to its push for clean energy sources, an area where India-US cooperation is getting stronger.

India also feels that the US didn’t go all-out so far in helping it a full membership in the group that deals with trade in nuclear technology and fissile materials. For example, when India got an exemption from the NSG guidelines, the effort was led by former president George Bush. But this time around, President Barack Obama left the task to the officials.

Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT)

The US has been nudging India to sigh the BIT that protects US investment in India and vice versa. This is proving to be a really tough task. India wants to keep the taxation and arbitration outside the preview of the pact, which the US is opposed to. The US says BIT in such a format defeats the very purpose of having an investment protection treaty.

Early ratification of Paris climate accord

India is ready to ratify it. But would like the US going for all out push for its NSG membership in return. The US administration sees ratification of the deal as a legacy of President Obama. But the Indian side not so sure whether they should sign soon or wait for the next US president to assume office.

AfPak

There is a greater convergence on Afghanistan now, with India seeing no immediate chance of Taliban getting mainstreamed into the political system of that country. India would like the US to put more pressure on Pakistan on the cross-border terrorism and link its aid with measures that Pakistan is taking on addressing terrorism.

Make in India

The two sides will also explore means for greater US participation in the Make in India flagship in the defence sector. They will review progress in the establishment of the working groups on aircraft carrier technology and jet engine.

In 2015, the bilateral trade reached $109 billion, which was $37 billion in 2005. The US investment in India reached more than $28 billion and India has invested more than $11 billion in the US. The US affiliates of Indian companies employ more than 52,000 workers in the US.

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