Washington: Adding commerce to the Indo-US Strategic Dialogue signals that economy is at the centre of ties between two of the world’s biggest economies, a top US official has said, days ahead of the first such meeting aimed at quadrupling bilateral trade to $500 billion per annum.
“The most important fact about elevating the dialogue to a strategic and commercial dialogue is to signal that commerce, economics and business are at the centre of the US-India relationship,” Arun Kumar, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of US and Foreign Commercial Service told PTI.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker would host their Indian counterparts, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for the inaugural India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue to be held here on September 21 and 22.
The decision to add commerce to the annual India-US Strategic Dialogue was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the US President Barack Obama, when the latter travelled to New Delhi in January this year.
Ahead of the dialogue, Kumar said this elevated dialogue puts a new focus on commerce and business relationship.
Noting that last year the bilateral trade crossed $100 billion mark, he said the two countries are now looking forward to taking this to a $500 billion mark per annum.
“So many of our talks and interaction would be about how do we reach this ambition and how do we execute towards elevating mutual trade. We feel that this is the right moment,” he said.
Referring to commitment from the top leadership in both countries, he said: “We got a good group that can work together and work with great urgency to move things forward.” Kumar said next week both the Strategic and
Commercial Dialogue and the meeting of the CEOs forum on its sidelines would look at the ways in which the two countries can enhance their commercial relationship, increase the momentum and work out mechanism for regular engagement.
“We would like to see the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue being a long lasting mechanism that would focus on building these connectivity, building the conversation and building the environment to increase trade and investment between the two countries,” he said.