India, US sign framework for trade and investment

The agreement was signed by commerce minister Anand Sharma and US trade representative Ron Kirk here on Wednesday.In the first significant step taken under the framework, Sharma and Kirk also announced the launch of an initiative called 'Integrating US and Indian Small Business into the Global Supply Chain' which will expand trade and job creating opportunities for companies in both the countries.

By signing this framework, Sharma said, "we want to create the right environment to ensure that the relationship brings maximum benefit to the maximum number of people. We will do so by promoting inclusive growth.

"We also intend to use this framework to encourage the development and deployment of clean energy and environmental technologies as well as to support India’s infrastructure growth," Sharma said.

The move will directly support US president Barack Obama's national export initiative as well as the recently announced budget initiatives of Indian government. "There is almost limitless potential for growth in trade between our two countries, and that can contribute to economic recovery and job creation in the US and continued economic growth in India," Kirk said after inking the deal, in the presence of Indian ambassador to US Meera Shankar, USIBC president Ron Somers and Bharti group vice-chairman and Ficci president Rajan Bharti Mittal.

The two countries can realise this potential by working together towards the goals set forth in the framework agreement such as developing and enforcing policies that encourage technological innovation, increasing agriculture, services, and industrial goals and increasing investment flows, Kirk said, adding "closer collaboration with entrepreneurs and private sector leaders in both our countries will enhance our work."
Following the signing in ceremony, Kirk and Sharma also hosted a meeting of a restructured private sector advisory group to the trade policy forum. This group will provide strategic counsel to enhance the two governments’ efforts to increase bilateral trade and investment.

The members of the group also offered to work as implementing partners for initiatives undertaken by the trade policy forum, including the small business initiative announced today. It was last October that Kirk and Sharma announced their intent to finalize the "framework for cooperation on trade and investment" when they co-chaired the US-India Trade Policy Forum meeting in New Delhi.

The two governments agreed to work together to support greater involvement by small and medium-sized enterprises in each other’s markets, and to pursue initiatives in the further development of India’s infrastructure, and collaboration on clean energy and environmental services, information and communications technologies, and other key sectors.

Under the "framework for cooperation on trade and investment," both the countries intend to meet the objectives of developing and enforcing trade policies and fostering a trade-enhancing environment by undertaking initiatives to help us meet those goals.
Examples include increasing opportunities for private sector partnerships in infrastructure projects; enhancing IPR awareness and enforcement; promoting increased bilateral cooperation in the healthcare, education, information technology, energy and environmental services industries; working to empower women and disadvantaged groups; creating greater mutual understanding of respective approaches to government procurement; and SME development.

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