'US committed to see trade with India achieves full potential'

'US committed to see trade with India achieves full potential'

Even as the US dragged India to the WTO on the alleged discriminatory solar policy, the Obama Administration has reiterated its commitment to ensure that bilateral trade reaches its full potential.

"We have a strong and growing trade and investment relationship with India, and we both remain committed to seeing that it achieves its full potential," US Trade Representative (USTR) Mike Froman said yesterday.

"Let me just say that when President Obama went to India in 2010, he noted that the US-India relationship was one of a strategic partnership – and in fact, a defining partnership of the 21st century," he added.

"An important part of any maturing trade relationship is effectively addressing the range of issues on our trade and investment agenda, including in areas where we might disagree," Froman told reporters soon after he announced that the US has challenged the domestic content requirements for solar power equipment imposed by India in 'Phase II' of its National Solar Mission.

"Today's action addresses a specific issue of concern and in no way detracts from the importance we attach to this relationship," Froman said alleging that domestic content requirements discriminate against US exports by requiring solar power developers to use Indian-manufactured equipment instead of US equipment.

"This kind of discrimination is against WTO rules, and we are determined to stand up for US workers and businesses," he said, adding that the action is also consistent with the Administration's strong support for the rapid development of renewable energy around the world, including in India.

"Domestic content requirements detract from successful cooperation on clean energy and actually impede India's deployment of solar energy by raising its cost," Froman said.

Meanwhile, senior USTR officials said that given the increasing differences between India and the US on a series of economic issues, it should not be seen that the two countries are headed towards a trade war.

"No (India and US are not headed towards a trade war)," the official said in response to a question.

"You know, in a mature trading relationship such as we have with India, there are going to be issues that arise. And what this administration is committed to do is to raise them directly and frankly. We have been in discussions with India since this solar program was announced in 2010. So that's going on four years now that we have been in consultations, raising our concerns with the government of India in a number of different ways," the official said.

"As indicated, for more than a year now, or for about a year, we have also made clear our concern raises specific WTO concerns. So, we are using the channels that we and India have agreed to, as we do with other countries. And this is a normal part of a mature and significant trading relationship, as we have with India," the official said.

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