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Need to accelerate Indo-US defence, trade ties: US Senators

A file photo.

WASHINGTON (PTI): Observing that the bilateral trade between India and the US has plateaued, two top American Senators on Monday called for jump-starting the economic ties by fast-tracking bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with special emphasis in the defence sector.

Speaking at the launch of India-US Trade Initiative by Atlantic Council, a top US think-tank, American Senators John Cornyn and Mark Warner called for a special focus in the defence sector and new areas for co-development and co-production.

"We can do a lot better. The defence industry can be and should be a major piece for this...especially for security and economic reasons," Cornyn said in his address.

Cornyn along with Warner are the Co-Chairs of the Senate India Caucus, which is the only India specific caucus in the US Senate.

Noting that India-US bilateral trade has plateaued now, Cornyn called for taking up steps and initiatives that kick start the bilateral trade.

One of them, he said is the US working to make India a member of APEC. A legislation in this regard is pending in the US Senate and the House of Representatives.

In his address, Senator Warner called for a focused approach in the defence sector.

Praising the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), a brainchild of the Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter in his previous capacity at the Pentagon, Warner called for new areas for co-development and co-production.

"The amount of bilateral visits (in recent months) in the defence sector is very encouraging," he said as he identified armed drones, aircraft and missile systems as areas for co-development and co-production in the defence sectors.

Measures like this he said would help achieve the goal of USD 500 billion in bilateral trade, which has been set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama.

Speaking on the occasion, India's Ambassador to the US, Arun K Singh, identified digital economy as one of the most important area of co-operation between India and the US.

India, he said, is on a massive infrastructure modernisation drive and has made appropriate changes in its policies to attract foreign direct investment, which has paid huge dividends in the last two years.

The Atlantic Council US-India Trade Initiative aims to generate American support for continued economic engagement in India and to forge collaboration on issues of trade and commerce, a media release said.

In an effort to leverage, sustain and promote the positive developments in trade relations between the two countries, the initiative will develop policy briefs and strategy papers, convene US-India trade workshops, and host a flagship US-India Trade Conference with policymakers, practitioners and private-sector leaders, it said.

The initiative will address seven of the most crucial areas of the US-India trade relationship, including smart cities, infrastructure, defence, financial institutions, insurance, trade agreements, and intellectual property rights, the Council said.


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