India and the United States will reinvigorate the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) and fast-track the proposed bilateral investment agreement. This was decided at a meeting of commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma and US trade representative Ron Kirk in Washington.
Sharma, who is on a four-day visit to the US, held discussions with Kirk yesterday and the two sides agreed to make the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) more robust and effective in resolving bilateral commercial issues, while maintaining the political leadership of the process.
The two sides also agreed to fast-track technical negotiations for an early conclusion of the India-US bilateral investment agreement. Officials of the two sides will hold two more rounds of negotiations before the next meeting of the ministerial level TPF, which is expected to be held in October 2011, in India.
During his interaction with Ambassador Kirk, Sharma appraised him of the various policy approaches being taken by India to sustain high GDP growth and the opportunities it offered for the US businesses to develop partnerships with the Indian private sector.
He mentioned infrastructure, agriculture and agro-processing, food processing, cold chain logistics, manufacturing of electronic devices (including chip design) as areas with bilateral cooperative possibilities. He also raised issues of importance for the Indian industry in their business operations in the US.
The US, meanwhile, welcomed the unilateral action taken by India in reducing tariffs on a number of products, including raw pistachios, cranberry products, seedless raisins, processed foods, medical equipment, fertilisers, chemicals, heavy machinery, etc. USTR also appreciated India's efforts towards increased cooperation in services and on improving the investment environment.
Earlier during the day, Sharma addressed a gathering of policy makers, economists and scholars at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies at which he highlighted the increasing role of emerging economies in the perspective of the financial and economic crisis, which is causing a rebalancing of the global economy. He also stressed the need to build and strengthen bilateral business and institutional partnerships between the two countries.
He also detailed India's plans to create national manufacturing and investment zones, which would become hubs of innovation and manufacturing.
On Tuesday, Sharma held a CEO industry roundtable in New York where he interacted with select leaders of investment firms and big businesses with keen interest in commercial opportunities in India.