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Modi, Obama's new agenda to strengthen Indo-US ties

October 06, 2014 11:59 IST

Obama and Modi recognised that US and Indian businesses have a critical role to play in sustainable, inclusive, and job-led growth and development.

Image: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and United States President Barack Obama discussed a broad range of issues in their recent meeting in the US. Photograph: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff

Noting that two-way trade has increased fivefold since 2001 to nearly $100 billion, US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi committed to facilitate the actions necessary to increase trade another fivefold. President Obama and Prime Minister Modi recognised that US and Indian businesses have a critical role to play in sustainable, inclusive, and job-led growth and development.

In order to raise investment by institutional investors and corporate entities, the leaders pledged to establish an Indo-US Investment Initiative led by the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Treasury, with special focus on capital market development and financing of infrastructure.

They pledged to establish an Infrastructure Collaboration Platform convened by the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Commerce to enhance the participation of US companies in infrastructure projects in India.

In this context, the US government welcomes India’s offer for US industry to be the lead partner in developing smart cities in Ajmer (Rajasthan), Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh).

The prime minister will welcome two trade missions in 2015, focused on meeting India’s infrastructure needs with US technology and services.

They also committed to a new partnership to advance the prime minister’s goal of improved access to clean water and sanitation for all.

USAID, through the Urban India Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Alliance, will serve as knowledge partner to help leverage private and civil society innovation, expertise, and technology, such as with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to support the prime minister’s 500 Cities National Urban Development Mission and Clean India Campaign.

The president welcomed the prime minister’s plan to extend basic financialservices to all its citizens, giving them powerful tools to manage their finances.

The leaders discussed their concerns about the current impasse in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and its effect on the multilateral trading system, and directed their officials to consult urgently along with other WTO members on the next steps.

The leaders committed to work through the Trade Policy Forum to promote a business environment attractive for companies to invest and manufacture in India and in the US.

Agreeing on the need to foster innovation in a manner that promotes economic growth and job creation, the leaders committed to establish an annual high-level Intellectual Property (IP) Working Group with appropriate decision-making and technical-level meetings as part of the Trade Policy Forum.

They recognised in particular the contribution of the Indian and US information technology (IT) industry and the IT-enabled service industry in strengthening India-US trade and investment relations.

The two leaders committed to hold public-private discussions in early 2015 under the Commercial Dialogue on new areas of co-operation, including innovation in advanced manufacturing.

The president also offered to support the prime minister to achieve his goal of preparing young Indians for 21st century jobs through new partnerships to share expertise and global standards for skills development in India.

The leaders look forward to the annual US-India Economic and Financial Partnership in early 2015.

They also welcomed the expansion of the partnership in oversight of financial institutions, including between the Reserve Bank of India and the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Office of the Comptroller of Currency.

They also agreed to reinvigorate the India-US CEO Forum, and welcomed India’s offer to host the forum for the second time in early 2015.

Defence and homeland security co-operation
The prime minister and president stated their intention to expand defence co-operation to bolster national, regional and global security.

The two leaders reaffirmed that India and the US will build an enduring partnership, in which both sides treat each other at the same level as their closest partners, including defence technology transfers, trade, research, co-production and co-development.

To facilitate deeper defence co-operation, they welcomed the decision to renew for 10 more years the 2005 Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship and directed their defence teams to develop plans for more ambitious programmes and activities.

The leaders welcomed the first meeting under the framework of the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative in September 2014 and endorsed its decision to establish a task force to expeditiously evaluate and decide on unique projects and technologies, which will have a transformative impact on bilateral defence relations.

The president and prime minister welcomed co-operation in the area of military education and training, and endorsed plans for the US to co-operate with India’s planned National Defence University.

The leaders reaffirmed their concern over the continued threat posed by terrorism, most recently highlighted by the dangers presented by the ISIL, and underlined the need for continued comprehensive global efforts to combat and defeat terrorism.

The leaders stressed the need for joint efforts, including the dismantling of safe havens for terrorist and criminal networks, to disrupt all financial and tactical support for networks such as the Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, the D-Company, and the Haqqanis. They reiterated their call for Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai to justice.

They pledged to enhance criminal law enforcement, security, and military information exchanges, and strengthen co-operation on extradition and mutual legal assistance.

Through operational co-operation through their law enforcement agencies, they aimed to prevent the spread of counterfeit currency and inhibit the use of cyberspace by terrorists, criminals, and those who use the internet for unlawful purposes.

The leaders also committed to identify modalities to exchange terrorist watch lists. President Obama pledged to help India counter the threat of improvised explosive devices with information and technology.

The president and prime minister looked forward to easing travel between their two countries, as India introduces visa-on-arrival for US citizens in 2015 and works toward meeting the requirements to make the United States’ Global Entry Program available to Indian citizens.

(Excerpts from the Joint Statement issued by US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 1,  in Washington)

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