India and the U.S. on Monday agreed to fast-track and conclude within a given timeframe agreements on enhancing and deepening trade and investment engagement, and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) cooperation agreement and an agreement for putting in place traditional knowledge digital library.
The two countries also issued a joint statement at the end of the Sixth Ministerial Level meeting of the India-U.S. Trade Policy Forum (TPF) with readiness to continue focus on agriculture, innovation and creativity, investment, services and tariff and non-tariff barriers. The Indian team was headed by the Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma, and the U.S. delegation was headed by the U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk.
Briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, Mr. Sharma said although no firm deadline had been fixed for concluding these agreements they would happen soon. “The U.S. has submitted us a draft on these issues and we will certainly study it. We hope to sign agreement very soon. These are in continuation of the high-level engagement between the two countries and in the run-up to the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh’s, visit to Washington next month,” he added.
Agreement on IPR
Mr. Sharma said the cooperation agreement on IPR was being put in place to reassure and comfort investors from both the countries. Expressing satisfaction with the result of Monday’s meeting, Mr. Sharma said the Indo-U.S. TPF would act as a catalyst for enhancing trade and investment and promoting economic engagement.
The joint statement said the two countries agreed to work together on a framework for promoting real and meaningful cooperation in trade and investment.
They also agreed to work together to support greater involvement of small and medium enterprises in each others’ markets and to pursue initiatives in the further development of India’s infrastructure, collaboration on clean energy and environmental services, information and communications technologies and other key sectors.
On the issue of H1-B visas for Indian professionals, Mr. Sharma said he had taken up the matter with Mr. Kirk stating that the Indian IT sector and industry in the U.S. had not only made huge investments but also generated thousands of jobs.
They are only one per cent of the total IT professionals working in the U.S. They have made a huge contribution to the U.S. economy and U.S. should take steps to sort out all issues faced by them in this area.