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India, US set to ink pact to boost trade, investment

world Updated: Mar 17, 2010 09:05 IST

India and the US are signing a new set of rules of commercial engagement on Wednesday to give a boost to rapidly-growing trade that has more than doubled over the last five years.

Called the "Trade Policy Forum Framework for Cooperation on Trade and Investment", the pact to facilitate trade and investment flows between the two countries is set to be signed by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and US Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk.

With bilateral trade of $65.9 billion last year, the US is India's largest trade partner. It is also one of the leading sources of Foreign Direct Investment into India and recently. Indian investment flows to the US estimated at $13 billion in 2007 are also steadily growing.

Sharma is also scheduled to have meetings with the Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The India-US Trade Policy Forum was established after the visit of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to US in July 2005. The USTR and Commerce and Industry Minister are the co-chairs of this forum.

Five Focus Groups have been discussing various trade policy issues of mutual interest relating to (a) tariff and non-tariff barriers; (b) services; (c) agriculture; (d) investment; and (e) creativity and innovation. The sixth meeting of the Forum was held in New Delhi in October 2009.

The India-US Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) comprising prominent trade personalities from India and US would also meet on March 17. The PSAG was established in Sep 2007 to provide strategic recommendations and insights to the Trade Policy Forum.

Sharama, who will visit New York on March 19, is scheduled to have meetings with US industry including the Board of US Council for International Business and the India Business Forum.

During the November official state visit of Prime Minister to Washington, a new India-US Economic and Financial Partnership was established to strengthen bilateral engagement and understanding on economic, financial, and investment-related issues.

The Partnership will meet at the Cabinet level once a year, alternately in the US and India. Working group and sub-cabinet level meetings will be held throughout the year to advance discussions on specific economic policy areas.

The India-US Economic and Financial Partnership will be formally launched by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in New Delhi on April 6.