India and the United States agreed on an action plan, including involvement of private sector big business leadership, to double their bilateral trade from the current $20 billion to $40 billion in three years.
The agreement was reached on Thursday at the third ministerial-level meeting of the US-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF) co-chaired by Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath and US Trade Representative Susan Schwab.
The two sides had agreed to add a "CEOs' arm" to TPF, launched during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's US visit in July 2005 to discuss trade and investment issues, to provide strategic direction and support and address micro issues more effectively, Nath told a press conference.
"The Trade Policy Forum has, within a short time, emerged as a very effective forum for the two sides to enhance bilateral trade and investment. It was encouraging to see both sides engaged in intensive discussions at the expert level on a variety of issues of mutual interest," he said.
With India already among the United States' fastest growing major bilateral trade relationships, Nath and Schwab hoped the cooperative steps endorsed on Thursday will serve to further trade and investment, with the goal of doubling two-way trade in three years.
"Under the Trade Policy Forum we continue to make steady progress on key issues to improve the bilateral trade and investment climate," said Schwab. "We remain committed to doubling bilateral trade over the next three years, and improving the regulatory, customs and intellectual property protection climate is key."
Nath and Schwab also discussed the Doha negotiations, agreeing that the US and India share a commitment to conclude a successful, far reaching Doha Round by the end of 2006.
The US-India Trade Policy Forum agreed to a number of actions. They include cooperation on an action plan and technical assistance to promote innovation, creativity and technological advancement by providing a vibrant intellectual property rights regime.
It seeks to initiate Bilateral Infrastructure Investment Programme that will focus on identifying investment opportunities, incentives and challenges in key infrastructure sectors.
Various steps to address several sanitary issues, including Indian mango exports to the United States and US almond, wax covered fruit and wheat exports to India were also discussed.
Both the nations would progress toward selecting participants for a working group on legal services to discuss market access and other relevant issues.
The inaugural ministerial session of the Forum was held in November 2005 in New Delhi, the second session was in February 2006 in Washington.