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High technology ties with U.S. have underperformed, says Nirupama Rao

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao flanked, by Eric L. Hirschhorn, U.S. Undersecretary for Industry and Commerce (left), and CII Director-General Chandrajit Banerjee, at the eighth meeting of the India-U.S. High Technology Cooperation Group in New Delhi on Monday.— Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao flanked, by Eric L. Hirschhorn, U.S. Undersecretary for Industry and Commerce (left), and CII Director-General Chandrajit Banerjee, at the eighth meeting of the India-U.S. High Technology Cooperation Group in New Delhi on Monday.— Photo: Rajeev Bhatt  

At a meeting, she makes it clear that reciprocity is vital

India has sought to counter the U.S.' bid to seek more market access for its companies by pointing out that high technology transfer has not been up to expectations.

“There is a shared perception that the High Technology Cooperation Group (HTCG) has, in a sense, underperformed and underachieved, especially in commercial sectors,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said at the opening plenary of the HTCG here on Monday.

The HTCG is part of the mechanisms in place to improve the two nations' relations.

During his recent visit to Washington, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was once again asked to ensure that the U.S. companies were given greater access in areas such as insurance, banking and retail.

At Monday's meeting, Ms. Rao made it clear that reciprocity was vital. “While the focus has been on conventional trade and market access, we must now focus equally on promoting cooperation in research and development, design, commercialisation and production,” she said. The two sides must pay attention not only to trade barriers but also to commercial opportunities in the broadest sense, she said.

As for defence equipment, an area of vital interest to the U.S., Ms. Rao said India would opt for joint production, joint research and development and technology transfer while placing orders with foreign companies. “The regulatory framework in both countries should evolve in a manner that facilitates trade and expands opportunities for collaboration in defence equipment and services.”

Overall, the HTCG should identify tangible and time-bound goals for each sector for making progress, instead of bringing a host of issues to the table. “We are likely to be more successful if we identify one or two key goals each year, than a wide array of diffused goals and priorities. It is equally important to identify specific activities and national actions that would enable us to achieve the desired outcomes.”

U.S. Undersecretary for Industry and Commerce Eric L. Hirschhorn said India and the U.S. must continue efforts at eliminating policies that discouraged research and innovation. “We must find ways to breakdown tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade that stifle cooperation.” Seeking to allay Ms. Rao's apprehensions, Mr. Hirschhorn pointed out that the U.S. export controls affected less than 1 per cent of trade with India.

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