Do away with trade barriers: US commerce secretary

Monday, February 7, 2011

NEW DELHI - Even though India has brought down tariffs, there still exist trade barriers that need to be done away with, visiting US commerce secretary Gary Locke said Monday. He also urged improvements in the laws on intellectual property rights.

“Though India has made tremendous strides to open up its economy, there is much more work that is left to be done,” Locke told reporters at a summit organised by an industry body here.

“While many tariffs have come down, others remain. Even when there are no outright tariffs there are non-tariff barriers that limit trade and investment,” Locke added.

Locke is leading a high-end technology trade mission from the US to promote the export of technologies in sectors such as civil nuclear energy, aviation and defence to the largest economy in south Asia.

“India has come along farther, faster than anyone would have expected, and there are good reasons to believe these trends can continue,” said Locke who is the first secretary to lead a business development mission here since 1997.

This is the first of several US commerce department missions being planned for 2011.

The pace of trade between the US and India has been on the rise. Between 2002 and 2009, US exports to India quadrupled, growing from $4.1 billion to more than $16.4 billion.

India is a key market for the Obama administration’s national export initiative, which aims to double US exports in five years.

Locke, who earlier held talks with his Indian counterpart Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, said he had asked the Indian government to remove trade barriers and allow US firms further market access.

Addressing the summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, Locke said if hindrances on investing in India were resolved the country would see a lot more American firms coming in, thus creating more jobs.

“We welcome the significant growth of investment and trade in goods and services between our two countries, but we believe our bilateral commerce is far from its potential,” the US commerce secretary said.

“We believe that there are mutually beneficial opportunities if American companies can invest here, open operations and hire people. This will help in improving lives of Indians,” he added.

Through the first eleven months of 2010, US merchandise exports to India totalled $17.6 billion, up 17 percent from the same period in 2009.

Filed under: Economy

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