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US, India discuss how to bring down trade barriers

world Updated: Jun 18, 2009 14:00 IST
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India and US will consult with public and private stakeholders, on how to bring down trade barriers and open markets for exporters as they discuss multilateral issues like the Doha round of world trade talks even as Washington expects New Delhi to take "bold steps" on trade liberalisation and economic reforms.

Visiting Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and US Trade Representative (USTR) Ronald Kirk agreed on such consultations during a meeting on Wednesday to discuss strengthening the bilateral US-India trade relationship.

"They committed to continuing high-level interactions on bilateral and multilateral issues - such as the Doha round of world trade talks - on multiple fronts, particularly the US-India Trade Policy Forum," USTR's office said.

"Both trade leaders will consult with public and private stakeholders on how to bring down trade barriers and open markets for exporters."

Sharma and Kirk first met earlier this month at the 33rd Cairns Group Ministerial meeting in Bali, Indonesia, where they began work on strategies to enhance trade and investment flows between the US and India, and to facilitate greater commercial interaction between US and Indian companies.

Earlier, participating in a roundtable at the US-India Business Council's "Synergies Summit" Kirk said the results of recent elections "give India's leaders an opportunity to take bold steps and move forward with trade liberalization and economic reforms that will benefit both India and the United States."

"The 420 million acts of democracy that took place when each of those Indians made their voice heard are as much a cause for celebration as the result."

Referring to his meeting with Sharma at Cairns, Kirk said they had talked about "how the current economic crisis is affecting businesses in both our countries, our shared commitment to revitalizing the global economy, and our shared goal of opening up new opportunities for trade between India and America."

Seeing an upside to the global economic downturn, Kirk said the recession offers "a unique opportunity" to show the benefits of free trade to sceptics.

Tough economic times mean free-trade advocates need to lend "a much more compassionate ear" to critics of free trade while continuing to extol its benefits, Kirk said.

He called for the US to work "thoughtfully" to remove trade barriers and pointed out that 95 percent of the world's population lives outside the US, underscoring the futility of a go-it-alone approach.

Two Canadian diplomats and two European tourists were released in April and flown to the Malian capital Bamako, but Dyer and Swiss national Werner Greiner remained in captivity. Greiner is believed to still be in the hands of the kidnappers who are believed to be the group around Abou Zeid.

Abou Zeid, also known as Abib Hammadou, 43, is listed on United Nations documents as a known Al-Qaeda member. The Malian authorities have described Algerian-born Abou Zeid as violent and brutal.

He is believed to have been the right-hand man of a former leader of the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).

According to security sources, the dead from Tuesday's attack include "commanders and most likely one or two of the people responsible for the death of a Malian officer killed last week in Timbuktu".

Lieutenant-Colonel Lamana Ould Bou, a senior Malian security official who played a key role in the arrest of several Al-Qaeda members in Mali, was gunned down in his living room by suspected members of the group on Wednesday last week.