'India ready for bilateral investment treaty talks with US'
Washington: India is ready for talks with the US on a bilateral investment treaty (BIT), which would reinvigorate trade ties between the two countries, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma has said.
"We have said that 'yes, we are ready for it (Bilateral investment treaty). We are in favour of a bilateral investment agreement," Sharma told reporters at the conclusion of the Washington-leg of his US tour yesterday.
However, no date has yet been set in this regard, he said.
During his visit, Sharma had met the US Trade Representatives Mike Froman; delivered key note address to the US India Business Council (USIBC) and attended a meeting of the US India CEOs Forum.
"We have given our acceptance," Sharma said in response to a question during the press interaction.
"We would definitely be in favour of enhancing our economic partnership," he said.
"We clearly recognise that the economic engagement in both trade and investment, though robust, is well below the potential, given the opportunities that a growing economy like India offers and the opportunities that exists in the largest economy of the United States of America," he said.
Sharma said the target of USD 500 billion in bilateral trade by 2020 is doable.
"If we make real effort in five years, we can definitely by 2020 reach there," he said.
"As of now trade and services put together is about USD 106 billion and fairly balanced and it has the potential to multiply at least four fold," the Commerce Minister said.
"We have a road map and we have a structured format of our engagement," he said, adding that this visit of his, along with that of the Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram and the Deputy Commissioner of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, along with other officials has reinvigorated the dialogue between the two countries.
"There was lot of positivity in our exchange and that gives us enough optimism that we will both be taking the desired steps and measure to ensure this partnership not only remains robust but also they are consolidated," he said.
Responding to questions, Sharma said he and Chidambaram have raised India's concerns with regard to the immigration bill in their meetings with their counterparts, and also at the India-US CEOs Forum.
"It is the USIBC which first raised it saying professionals working in these companies are providing a range of service and bringing much values to the businesses and it would affect both the companies, not only the Indian IT companies, but also US companies," he said.
"When it comes to professionals, these are individuals who are providing highly specialised services to help the businesses be competitive and also move up the value chain.
They cannot be categorised as immigrants," he said, adding that the Indian side raised its concerns.
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