The Economic Times
News story by PTI
18 -Sept- 2015
WASHINGTON: Adding commerce to the Indo-US Strategic Dialogue signals that economy is at the centre of ties between two of the world’s biggest economies, a top US official has said, days ahead of the first such meeting aimed at quadrupling bilateral trade to $500 billion per annum.
“The most important fact about elevating the dialogue to a strategic and commercial dialogue is to signal that commerce, economics and business are at the centre of the US-India relationship,” Arun Kumar, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of US and Foreign Commercial Service told PTI.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker would host their Indian counterparts, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for the inaugural India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue to be held here on September 21 and 22.
The decision to add commerce to the annual India-US Strategic Dialogue was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the US President Barack Obama, when the latter travelled to New Delhi in January this year.
Ahead of the dialogue, Kumar said this elevated dialogue puts a new focus on commerce and business relationship.
Noting that last year the bilateral trade crossed $100 billion mark, he said the two countries are now looking forward to taking this to a $500 billion mark per annum.
“So many of our talks and interaction would be about how do we reach this ambition and how do we execute towards elevating mutual trade. We feel that this is the right moment,” he said.
Referring to commitment from the top leadership in both countries, he said: “We got a good group that can work together and work with great urgency to move things forward.”
Kumar said next week both the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue and the meeting of the CEOs forum on its sidelines would look at the ways in which the two countries can enhance their commercial relationship, increase the momentum and work out mechanism for regular engagement.
“We would like to see the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue being a long lasting mechanism that would focus on building these connectivity, building the conversation and building the environment to increase trade and investment between the two countries,” he said.
The US Government, he said, is delighted to see that Prime Minister Modi would meet a number of CEOs both in New York and Silicon Valley during his visit to the US later this month.
In fact, the Department of Commerce has worked with the Stanford University to put together a round table on renewable energy and opportunities for renewable energy in India.
It would be attended by the Prime Minister.
US companies, he said are ready to do more in India in these critical areas like renewable energy, urbanisation and transportation.
For facilitating more US investment in India, improvement in the business climate and ease of doing business needs to be on the top of the list of the Indian Government, he noted.
“It is an important area where as part of Strategic Dialogue, we have set up teams in Department of Commerce to work with corresponding officials in the Indian government. In the first instance, we are looking at issues like insolvency, contract dispute resolution, and issues that would make it easier for businesses,” he said.
The top Commerce Department official said Prime Minister is “very very aware” of these issues and wants to “improve” the business climate in India and significantly increase India’s ranking in ease of doing business.
“In general we see that there is a very positive mood of engagement in the Indian Government working with US companies,” he said.
“We can work in partnership with the Indian government in terms of what they want to do in improving the business climate. US companies make their own decisions. We can reflect on the kind of objectives they have, and work in a constructive way to facilitate that. Because investment creates jobs and that is very critical for India,” he said.