India, US to brainstorm bilateral trade and eco ties

The US and India are all set to brainstorm next week their bilateral economic relationship and discuss a pathway to avoid a trade war between the two largest democratic countries of the world.

Updated: Jul 07, 2013, 13:43 PM IST

Washington: The US and India are all set to brainstorm next week their bilateral economic relationship and discuss a pathway to avoid a trade war between the two largest democratic countries of the world.

The development comes against the backdrop of a section of US lawmakers and businesses increasingly raising their ante against what they allege restrictive and protectionist trade policies of New Delhi.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, along with a battery of top Indian corporate leaders led by Ratan Tata and Sunil Bharti Mittal are scheduled to hold a series of meetings and brainstorming sessions with their US counterparts in both public and private forums.

They would not only raise issues including H-1B to the Americans, but also explain to them the Indian policies, which of late have generated much heat at the Capitol Hill.

In all these meetings, the US would be represented by the Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew and the US Trade Representative, Michael Froman -- both of whom are close confidant of the US President - and top American CEOs including Indra Nooyi of Pepsico, Ajay Banga of MasterCard and Dave Cote of Honeywell, among others.

While majority of these bilateral meetings next week and the India-US CEOs Forum meeting on July 12 would be closed doors, it is the 38th annual Leadership Summit of the US India Business Council (USIBC) which will give the officials and CEOs to publicly express their views on July 11 at the US Chambers of Commerce, a block away from the White House.

Noting that India is a long-term business opportunity that holds tremendous opportunities for industry, USIBC President Ron Somers said: "We are looking forward to productive meetings that bring together both governments and US and Indian business leaders to discuss proactive ways to eliminate investment barriers and deepen commercial ties."

With the theme 'Agenda for Progress' the USIBC meeting will focus on ways to make the US-India partnership stronger, to the benefit of both countries.

Chidambaram, Sharma and Froman are scheduled to deliver key note address to the annual USIBC meeting.

In their key note address to USIBC Leadership Summit, Indian and US officials are expected to identify barriers to trade and investment and propose solutions to deepen the bilateral commercial relationship which crossed USD 100 billion this year in two-way trade.

Lew who would be co-chairing the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue to be held in Washington next week, would hold separate bilateral meeting with Chidambaram.

Led by US-India CEO Forum chairs Ratan Tata and Dave Cote the top business executives of the two countries are expected to share their aspirations for a robust future of prosperity and job creation that will benefit both countries.

Sharma is also scheduled to hold a separate bilateral meeting with Froman.

This would be the first meeting between the two after Froman was recently sworn in as the US Trade Representatives.

The series of bilateral meetings along with USIBC annual Leadership Summit and CEOs Forum meeting comes is being held at a time when there is an increasing disenchantment from the a number of US lawmakers and American businesses against what they allege as the protectionist and discriminatory Indian trade policies.

This was reflected in the letters written by more than 250 lawmakers to the US President, Barack Obama, and the Secretary of State, John Kerry, last month; which also witnessed the first ever formation of a business coalition against India.

American businesses and lawmakers expressed their frustration against Indian policies at a Congressional hearing last week.

The Indian Ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao, wrote a letter to the US lawmakers explaining India's position on the issues and concerns raised by them.

Later this month, the US Vice President, Joe Biden, is scheduled to visit India; to give a new push to India US bilateral relationship; which comes close on the heels of last month's Kerry's trip to New Delhi.