The US is keen to work with India to conclude the Doha round of trade talks this year, a top Obama administration official said here.
“Multilaterally, the US wants to work with India to bring the Doha round to a balanced and ambitious conclusion in 2010. Minister of Commerce Anand Sharma has made a concerted effort to change the tone and substance of India’s trade dialogue with the US,” Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Assistant Secretary Robert Blake Jr said.
The Doha round of trade talks had begun in 2001 to open global commerce.
He said the US thinks that developing countries like India, China, Brazil and South Africa have a “game-changing role” to play, particularly in accessing the least developed countries.
“The April 2009 IMF economic outlook projects that 58 per cent of the global economic growth between now and 2014 will be provided by these developing countries and the US will continue to urge India and other countries to act on that potential,” Mr. Blake said.
On strong trade ties between the two countries, he said bilateral trade has more than doubled in last five years.
While the economic downturn has resulted in a decline in bilateral trade in 2009, “I think we will continue to see very strong expansion in the trade area going forward.”
Echoing US President Obama, who had referred to India as an “indispensable nation”, Mr. Blake said there is “bipartisan support” in both the countries for stronger ties.
“In Prime Minister Singh we have a leader with vision, experience and a firm commitment to deepen the warm ties between the two countries,” he said.
Mr. Blake outlined energy, climate change, education, agriculture, science, health and innovation as areas for strategic cooperation between the two nations.
He said the US hopes to have the first US-India Agriculture Dialogue meeting within a few months in New Delhi to explore ways to promote rural development in India.
Mr. Blake said the Indian government’s intention to introduce a Bill in Parliament to allow greater foreign participation in education will open tremendous avenues for American universities in areas like community colleges, vocational training and distance learning programmes.
Referring to energy and climate change, Mr. Blake said the US supports India’s broader low-carbon growth objectives. “We see India’s leadership on this issue at Copenhagen as well. The Copenhagen Accord represents a meaningful step forward by the global community to combat climate change. This could not have happened without leadership at the highest levels from India.”
He said there is up to USD 18 billion worth of opportunities that will be available in the next several years in the area of Defence.