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India, US have busy commercial calendar ahead

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Washington: The India-US commercial relationship has a busy calender ahead in the next 12 months, which is aimed at encouraging greater ambition in expanding bilateral trade and addressing market access challenges facing US companies, a senior Obama administration official has said.

“In the coming months, our commercial engagement will be focused on encouraging greater ambition in expanding US-India trade and address market access challenges facing US companies,” Arun M Kumar, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General for the US and Foreign Commercial Service told a think-tank this week.

In February next year Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews would lead a high powered Infrastructure Trade Mission to India.

The two countries would also hold their meeting of the Innovation Forum, in addition to the annual India-US Commercial Dialogue and the CEO’s Forum and the second edition of the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, he said.

Among other things, the commercial engagement would also focus on continuing to advance a whole-of-government approach on both sides through the S&CD and the CEO Forum.

It will also focus on leveraging CEO Forum recommendations to further encourage ambition and prioritise work under the S&CD and institutionalising the S&CD and formalising the link between the S&CD and the CEO Forum through public-private working groups, Kumar said.

“As we plan ahead, we will be increasingly focused on how to take advantage of the positive developments taking place at the State level,” Kumar said.

Noting that India’s states are increasingly the focus of economic activity and laboratories for initial economic reform initiatives, he said the American engagement on three US-designated smart cities requires robust state-level communication.

“We have Commerce offices in seven states in India, providing us the ability to work locally in those states. In addition we have an American Business Corners system, a network of agreements with key business chamber organisations in 15 2- and 3-tier cities in India. The system enables Indian importers in these cities learn about our services and programs and make connecting with American businesses.

“Our SelectUSA unit works closely with states on both sides. The recent successful Investor Roadshow in India was very well attended and we have set the stage for future Indian investment in the US,” he added.

“At Commerce, we are intent on realising the promise and potential of the commercial relationship, and have a busy year ahead of us to make progress and deliver concrete results during the first year of the Strategic & Commercial Dialogue,” Kumar said.

“The overarching goals for India US commercial engagement is to reach the goal of USD 500 billion in annual two-way trade, develop a balanced trade relationship (to increase US exports, not just imports from India) that creates jobs in both countries and construct a shared commercial agenda that will enable meaningful progress, including in the short term, by better aligning our goals with PM Modi’s domestic agenda.

Achieving these goals, he said, will require India to integrate into global supply chains, making in India requires first “Trading with India”, he said adding that the Commerce Department is working to open channels for US private sector capabilities and resources in support of these initiatives.

“We are engaged in areas like Infrastructure and Smart Cities working in close coordination with USTDA and NIST among others,” he said.