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Indo-US trade future bright: Rocca

By Ramananda Sengupta in New Delhi
September 11, 2003 19:22 IST
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Painting a bright future for Indo-US trade relations, US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Christina Rocca said, in the 21 century, New Delhi and Washington will work to enhance global integration through trade, investment, shared technology and improved communications.

Speaking at a luncheon meeting organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry at Delhi's Oberoi Hotel, Rocca said, "You, as members of CII, know better than most the doldrums that trapped trade between our two countries."

"Although Indian products and services have done well in the US market, American exports to India have languished between $3.5 and $4 billion since 1997. US investment in India has been similarly lacklustre, falling from a peak of $737 million in 1997 to a meagre $283 million in 2002," she added.

However, "recent events suggest that this situation may be changing. US exports will likely top $4 billion this year, and the forward march of India's economic reform programme holds the promise of greater foreign investment in all sectors."

Pointing out that both American and Indian businessmen frequently voice their concerns about the slow pace of reforms in India, Rocca said, everyone was familiar with the "impediments that continue to block greater foreign investment and market penetration. They have been a subject of frequent discussion with Indian officials and would again feature in the WTO talks in Cancun."

"At Cancun, the stakes are high. We are looking for concrete solutions to specific ssnsitivities and adjustment problems facing the developing countries. We are seeking to accommodate developing countries' needs within a single trading system. We do not believe any interests are served by a bifurcated or two-tier system."

Earlier, introducing Rocca to the audience comprising Indian business honchos, foreign diplomats and a large posse of media persons, Gautam Thapar (chairman, CII northern region and vice chairman and MD of Ballarpur Industries Ltd) quoted Rocca's statements before the senate foreign relations committee, where she spoke of 'shared interests and values' that link India with the US, and had described India as a "rising global power."

Rocca, in her speech, said it was important to note that Cancun represents the midpoint of the Doha development agenda negotiations.

"We do not expect people to concur with what we want the agreement to look like at the end. The idea is to ensure that we have the opportunity to negotiate ambitious results. As the midpoint of the negotiations, Cancun is meant to give direction to negotiators, to enable them to continue and ultimately complete the negotiation on time."

Stating that India is a critical player in these negotiations, Rocca said, "Your country has the wherewithal to lead the way towards constructive solutions to the growing demands of our shared global society.

"The world needs India's creativity and wisdom. We hold great hope that the government of India will be as ambitious as the US in seeking to open it's own and world markets."

The US and India see eye-to-eye on certain issues and on others, we disagree. The mark of a mature trading relationship is the willingness to see others as attentive, productive advocates rather than adversaries.

"Recently, in Geneva, your government and ours acted together as advocates towards a common goal. We are grateful to India for its key role in resolving the complicated issue of TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights).

"This is the kind of cooperation we hope to continue to foster with India, both bilaterally and multilaterally," she concluded.
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