Talks on bilateral investment treaty to resume, say Modi, Obama

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New Delhi: India and US will resume dialogue on a bilateral investment treaty as the economic growth in both countries is becoming stronger and their economic partnership had strengthening, announced Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama Sunday.

“President Obama and I have agreed that a strong and growing economic relationship is vital for the success of our strategic partnership. Economic growth in our two countries is becoming stronger,” Modi said at a joint press meeting with Obama after their talks.

“Our business climate is improving. In addition we have established a number of effective bilateral mechanisms to identify opportunities and also help our business, trade and investments more.

“We will also resume our dialogue on bilateral investment treaty. We will also start discussions on social security agreement that is so important for the hundreds and thousands of Indians professionals working in the US,” Modi added.

Obama said: “Our economic partnership has grown and our economic partnership will improve daily lives of our people. We have identified the bilateral investment treaty to discuss further.”

“The prime minister has informed me about his missions of economic prosperity to improve the lives of rural Indians with bank accounts, clean water and clean air. We are working on providing assistance to all these,” he added.

Obama welcomed Modi’s recent reforms to ease doing business in India.

“Since my last visit here and the address made to your parliament, trade has increased and we are cooperating on key global challenges. In the last few years the trade between our countries have increased by some 60 percent and it is going towards $100 billion and we want to trade even more,” he said.

In a press briefing later, Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said: “We have agreed to resume talks on high standard bilateral investment treaty.”

According to various Indian industry bodies and trade estimates, Indian-American bilateral trade is poised to reach $100 billion mark by 2018.

Commerce ministry data shows that India’s exports to the US have risen from $9 billion in 2001-02 to around $39 billion in 2014-15, with the US remaining India’s top export destination throughout the years.

Import-wise, the US has registered a steep rise from $3 billion in 2001-02 to $22 billion in 2014-15.

Overall, bilateral trade between India and the US rose five-fold from $12 billion in 2001-02 to $62 billion in 2014-15.

During 2000 to 2013, the cumulative foreign direct investment (FDI) flows from the US to India were estimated at $14 billion – constituting nearly six percent of the total FDI into India.

The foreign secretary also said three MoUs (memorandum of understanding) signed between US Trade and Development Agency and the governments of Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. “These include building of smart cities in Ajmer, Allahabad and Vishakhapatnam. The US is also cooperating with us on Digital India programme.”

Asked about cooperation on liquified natural gas with the US and gas imports from Iran, she said: “All issues of regional and mutual interest have been discussed.”

It was also mentioned that the US side has shown extreme keenness in partnering, collaborating and financing India’s goal of 100 GW solar energy initiative.

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