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America Inc keen on bilateral trade treaty with India

June 24, 2011 10:17 IST

Corporate America on Thursday urged policymakers to enter into a bilateral investment treaty with India, which they argued is the next key step after the civil nuclear deal to strengthen and deepen trade and business ties between the two largest democracies of the world.

"The priority is to deliver on a US-India Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) that incentivises greater two-way foreign direct investment," said Ron Somers, the president of US India Business Council (USIBC) in his address to the 36th anniversary leadership summit of the organisation, which is the apex body of the Indian and American corporate world in the United States.

"USIBC calls upon both governments to re-energise BIT discussions by re-engaging in technical discussions as soon as possible," Somers said in the presence of top officials and corporate leaders from both countries.

"India's growth story is compelling nations around the world to seek stronger commercial ties with India by negotiating their own trade and investment agreements," said Harold "Terry" McGraw III, chairman, president and CEO of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

"The United States and American companies are at risk of being left behind and extending a period of low, slow economic growth if we do not do more to foster

trade and investment between the US and India," said McGraw, who also is the USIBC chairman.

In addition to a US-India bilateral investment treaty, USIBC urged a serious evaluation of a more specialised bilateral economic arrangement -- one that will put American companies on a level-playing field with global competitors.

A new agreement is necessary to open market access and facilitate greater movement of technically qualified professionals -- areas important to both economies, the USIBC said.

The USIBC announced it will take the lead to develop a working group with its Indian counterparts to trade ideas on the elements needed for a successful US-India economic arrangement, including details about market access in goods, the free flow of services, regulatory coherence, high technology trade, intellectual property rights, procurement and greater movement of professional workers.

In his capacity as USIBC chairman, McGraw called on business and government leaders in both countries to find ways to work together to build on that momentum and create new economic growth that will lead to more jobs.

"Our two countries have shared values, shared beliefs. The strategic partnership between the US and India rests on the successful growth of commercial ties and I am optimistic we can find areas of cooperation that will lead to more dynamic, two-way growth," he said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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