The Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma, on Tuesday said that the issue of U.S. posturing on outsourcing and the foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail did not come up for discussions during the bilateral talks between the visiting U.S. President, Barack Obama, and the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.
“We did not raise the issue of outsourcing during the delegation-level talks. These matters have been raised both in writing by me before I left for Washington and later when the U.S.-India trade policy forum met in early September,” Mr. Sharma told reporters on the sidelines of a conference organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here. Mr. Sharma said the U.S. government had appreciated India's concerns on the visa fee hike and the outsourcing ban by Ohio. “I think our concerns on these issues have been registered and appreciated. We will wait for the next steps.”
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke also said that the U.S. did not raise the issue of FDI in multi-brand retail during the delegation-level talks.
Mr. Sharma asserted that India was against protectionism of any kind. “We are simplifying and rationalising our FDI policy and cutting down transaction costs. “We have created ‘Invest India' company to guide FDI into the country with FICCI, Central and State governments as the stakeholders,” he said.
The Commerce Minister said following the visit of Mr. Obama, there was a need to elevate the two-way relationship by taking incremental steps towards arriving at a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) between the two nations to cover investment, goods and the services trade.
Mr. Locke said the U.S. had urged India to remove trade and investment barriers in general. “We were talking more in general terms about ensuring FDI in a whole host of fields and making sure that there is no barrier on investment, not just from the U.S. but from any other countries,” he added.
However, Mr. Locke expressed concern over India's tariff regime which was complex and non-transparent. He said trade between the countries was being hampered by non-tariff barriers and that India's FDI rules were complicated and opaque.