India-US annual trade crosses $105 bn

30 Aug 2016


Bilateral trade between India and the US has gathered strength rising to more than $105 billion during the 2015-16 financial year, amidst an otherwise sluggish scenario in global trade, commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitaraman said at the annual India-US strategic and commercial dialogue.

While this figure is much below the potential, as the trade complementarity between the two large democracies is very high, the minister said the improvement in trade volume speaks amply for India-US trade ties.

She said the two countries have been engaged in the use of institutional dialogues like Trade Policy Forum and Strategic and Commercial Dialogue to address the issues being faced by the trade and to look at broader economic policy initiatives and I must mention that such engagements have been highly productive from the point of view of both the countries. These mechanisms have provided appropriate platforms for sustained interaction between public and private sector to work together to identify newer areas of cooperation and to work around challenges and impediments to smoothen the flow of the relationship, she said.

The commercial track of S & CD was led by Nirmala Sitharaman on the Indian side and Penny Pritzker on the US side. The two ministers also presided over the CEO Forum along with Tata group chairman Cyrus Mistry, and Honeywell chairman Dave Cote, the two co-chairs from India and United States, respectively.

Sitaraman said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barrack Obama had set an ambitious target of taking the bilateral trade to levels around $500 billion and this would require both the sides to work in close cooperation and resolve impediments to trade.

''I would like to assure you that we remain strongly committed to make India a better place to do business and to progressively liberalise our economy to facilitate greater investment,'' she told the CEOs Forum.

She cited the numerous changes in FDI policy to bring more activities under the automatic route and easing conditionality for foreign investment.  New sectors like defence, railways etc have been opened to foreign investments.

Reforms undertaken in the recent months have shown positive results and FDI inflows into India have increased at a time when globally, there is decline in the investment flows.  ''Total FDI inflow into India which was at $36 billion during 2013-14 increased to $44.2 billion in 2014-15 and further to $55.4 billion during the year 2015-16.

FDI from the US has also shown a positive growth trend from $804 million in 2013-14 to $4.19 billion in 2015-16, Sitaraman pointed out.

India, she said, has been taking persistent efforts towards simplification of the tax regime and the passage of the GST Bill is expected to provide the required boost for a simplified indirect tax regime. The bipartisan support for this initiative augurs well for the Indian economy, she added.

Combined with initiatives like improving the ease of business the initiative in bringing about the insolvency and bankruptcy code that would overhaul the existing framework for dealing with insolvency of corporates, individuals, partnerships and other entities, introduction of Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) which allows the importers/exporters to file a common declaration on the customs' ICEGATE portal, have resulted in slashing the documentation requirement for exporters and importers, she pointed out.

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