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Rediff.com  » Business » Key Bush administration official to visit India

Key Bush administration official to visit India

February 09, 2007 04:34 IST

In order to further strategise on accelerating the momentum of economic growth and trade between India and the United States, US Commerce Secretary Carlos M Gutierrez will make his first visit to India on February 13.

During his two-day visit, Gutierrez will meet his counterpart Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath, senior Indian officials and business leaders.

Commerce Department officials are also hoping that Gutierrez will also be afforded the opportunity of meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The US commerce Secretary's visit, which follows President Bush's historic visit to India last year, sources told rediff.com, will focus on urging India to accelerate its reforms and provide more investment opportunities and access to consumer as well as high-end defense markets for American companies.

He is also expected to implore India to carry the developing world with it to successfully complete the WTO's Doha Round, which many US lawmakers believe has been stalled because of countries like India and Brazil refusing to compromise on issues like agriculture.

Consequently, some conservative Republican lawmakers, which many pro-India lobbyists and members of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans believe on the strength of a nod from the Office of the US Trade Representative that apparently is angered over India's perceived intransigent stand in the Doha Round, have attempted to deprive India of general system of preferences trade benefits.

"My visit will focus on expanding our bilateral economic relationship and working to increase US exports to India. I look forward to discussing with India's government the opportunities

our two nations face as we strengthen our relationship and expand upon our economic successes," Gutierrez said on Thursday.

In a statement released by the Commerce Department, the secretary said, 'American companies should be exporting more to India, and India should work with us to make sure American exporters and businesses are treated fairly.'

Gutierrez is also slated to deliver a major address to members of the American Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The Commerce Department said that the meetings will include discussions on enforcing intellectual property rights, reducing red tape for US companies trying to do business in India and the United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act signed by President Bush in December 2006.

'Secretary Gutierrez will reaffirm the President's commitment to the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate initiated by President Bush, Dr Singh, and the leaders of Australia, China, Japan, and South Korea to reduce the intensity of carbon dioxide and others greenhouse gas emissions,' it added.

Gutierrez, a core member of President Bush's economic team, is often touted as one of the strongest voices of business in the Bush administration, and is a former chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Kellogg Company.

Gutierrez's first visit to India, follows close on the heels of the trip undertaken by Under Secretary for International Trade Frank Lavin last fall, when Lavin led the largest US government business development mission in history to India in November-December of 2006. The mission included 250 American business representatives and state government officials who explored export opportunities in India.

Aziz Haniffa in Washiongton DC