India, US to discuss trade irritants | india | Hindustan Times
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India, US to discuss trade irritants

Ahead of Bush's visit, officials of the two countries will hold talks to remove hindrances related to bilateral trade.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 12:29 IST

Ahead of US President George W Bush's visit to India early next month, officials of the two countries will hold talks in Washington to remove some of the hindrances related to bilateral trade, particularly Indian exports.

Talks between Commerce Secretary SN Menon and Deputy US Trade Representative Karan Bhatia are scheduled for Feb 16-17 to "resolve some of the irritants to bilateral trade and for augmenting US investments in India," official sources said.

While many of the multilateral trade issues are to be tackled through the World Trade Organisation negotiations, some of the bilateral issues would be taken up under the India-US Trade Policy Forum set up last year.

The first meeting of the forum was held here in November 2005 during the visit of US Trade Representative Rob Portman.

"Some of the issues we hope to raise during the meeting would be like sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) and technical barriers to trade (TBT) that are hindering Indian exports of food products to the US," the sources said.

These include issues relating to marine products and getting the US to allow export of fresh Indian mangoes.

Some of the other issues that are hindering the flow of trade in goods and services are the US requirement of bonds for exports as also the social security payment for short time stay of professionals for fulfilling service contracts.

"We are also keen to seek more high-tech US exports to India. We are happy that currently the US exports to India are recording a higher growth than imports, which was a sore point with the US officials," sources said.

While the US exports to India are registering a growth of 20 percent, Indian exports are growing around 18-20 per cent this year.

India's total merchandise trade with the US stands at about $21 billion, of which Indian exports are about $14 billion.

Both the countries are hopeful of the bilateral trade growing to $40 billion in three years by addressing some of the pending issues.

India has identified the small and medium enterprises sector as a focus area for achieving the ambitious target.

"We are keen to have more US investments not only via transfer of high-technology but also through investment in small and medium enterprises, which are a major growth driver in the American economy. Currently hardly any of the US small and medium enterprises are looking at investment possibilities in India," sources said.