Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama’s personal intervention helped India and the US resolve a bitter row over food subsidies and get moving on a stalled global deal on easier customs, a top US official has said.
“The breakthrough at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) would not have been possible without the personal engagement of President Obama and Prime Minister Modi,” the US Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman told industry leaders at a meeting organised by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) on Monday.
“They gave our partnership a mantra: “Chalein saath saath: Forward together we go.” That’s what we’re doing at WTO. And that’s what we’re doing in our bilateral trade and investment relationship,” Froman said.
Obama will in January become the first US president to visit India twice, mirroring a significant warming of relationship between the world’s two largest democracies. “The President was deeply honoured to receive this invitation and is very much looking forward to his return,” he said.
On November 11, India and the US resolved a dispute over food subsidies, removing a major irritant in a stalled WTO deal on easing of customs rules.
The latest move will help WTO members ratify the so-called trade facilitation agreement to make trade easier, faster and cheaper by making systems transparent and reducing red tape.
On Tuesday Froman will hold discussions with the commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman and other officials as part of the bilateral US-India trade policy forum.
“This pace of engagement is impressive, but shouldn’t be surprising for what President Obama declared the defining partnership of the 21st century,” Froman said. “Our task is to ... deliver on the promise of that partnership.”