Washington: Noting that US should do more to realise the economic potential of India, a noted American expert has said Washington should start negotiations with New Delhi on a free trade agreement and help it become a member of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
Dan Twining, Senior Fellow for Asia at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, told lawmakers that regrettably the Obama Administration's signature trade initiatives -- Trans Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership -- do not include India.
A primary economic initiative between the two countries has been a modest bilateral investment treaty, which has been stuck in the bowels of the bureaucracy for years, he said.
"At the same time, India has enacted or is negotiating trade agreements with Japan, the EU, ASEAN and a number of other partners, but not the US," Twining said.
India's exclusion from APEC makes little sense for a country that sits in the middle of Asia, is an important trading partner to America, China and Japan, and has an economy that will comprise nearly 20 percent of global GDP by 2060 according to the OECD, Twining said.
He said to elevate the bilateral economic relations to the strategic level, he believes America and India should launch negotiations for a free trade agreement.
"India will have to undertake far-reaching domestic reforms to qualify. New Delhi might find it easier to undertake these reforms if it can do so as part of a process of acceding to APEC."
An APEC membership, coupled with an eventual FTA with America can speed up economic reformes in India and mobilise country's private sector, he said.
Twining further noted that rather than "throwing bombs from the outside", India has behaved "more responsibly" in institutions like the IAEA and the UN Security Council.
"Once seated at the high table, they're more inclined to help enforce global rules," he said, and added the same would be true if India should accede to APEC.
Twining said India needs to grow in order to underwrite its security in a very tough neighborhood and deal with challenges like poverty.
The country, he said, has implemented massive rural welfare schemes, but at the same time, a dynamic private sector is also required to empower the middle class.
"The US can help accelerate this process by incentivising our Indian friends to open up their economy to again produce growth rates approaching 10 percent," Twining said, adding if China, South Korea and japan could do it, there is no reason that stops India in achieving the same.
"There's no cultural or historic reason India can't deliver a South Asian miracle to match the East Asian miracle we've seen in the Pacific. India should ultimately find it has no stronger partner in economics than the US," Twining said.
First Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013, 09:32