Ahead of the minister level meeting of the Trade Policy Forum (TPF), the first in four years, US Trade Representative Michael Froman described the agreement reached by India and the US on the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) aimed at unlocking progress at the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a “big deal”.
“The TFA is a big deal which will be effective in reducing the cost of doing business for developed countries by 10 per cent and that for developing countries by 14 per cent, adding billions of dollars to the world economy,” Mr Froman said, addressing a packed house of senior industry leaders of FICCI and senior officials and representatives of the US Embassy, here today.
Mr Froman informed the audience that India and the US were working side by side in Geneva to address the outstanding issues relating to the TFA and the agreement with India would help to move forward with full implementation of the TFA. Mr Froman also said that the agreement would facilitate entry of small businesses in the global supply chain. Small business enterprises help to generate employment and command 40 per cent of Indian exports. India would be a big beneficiary of this agreement which creates a win-win scenario.
Mr Froman said that the agreement which also reflects shared understandings regarding the WTO’s work on food security, is in sync with US commitment to address big needs of India’s food security. Attributing the success of the breakthrough to the personal involvement of President Obama and Prime Minister Modi, Mr Froman said, India and the US can look forward to working with all WTO members to reach a consensus that enables full implementation of all elements of the landmark Bali Package, including the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Welcoming the restart of the TPF, the premier bilateral forum for discussion and resolution of trade and investment issues between the two countries, Mr Froman pointed out that this was the first trade policy forum in four years, marking an important development in the historic turn in the India-US relations.
Describing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US in September and his Madison Square meeting as a ‘blockbuster event”, Mr Froman highlighted the importance of the forthcoming visit of the US President Barack Obama which would mark the first ever presence of a US President in the India’s Republic Day celebrations as well as the first time that a US President would visit India twice in a tenure. India, US relations are being increasingly defined by strategic dialogue, high technology and higher education and this piece of engagement should not come as a surprise given President Obama’s commitment to deliver for successful partners.
Mr Froman said that the key to success of India’s manufacturing future encased in the “Make in India” initiative lies in India-US collaboration in innovation and entrepreneurship and India’s focus on itelelctual property, piracy and counterfeiting.
Earlier, addressing the gathering, Mr Sidharth Birla, President FICCI, welcomed the restart of the Trade Policy Forum (TPF), a key dialogue between India and United Ambassador States on trade and investments. “Our trade which has grown 5-fold since 2000, to about US $100 billion annually, can expand five-fold. I am sure that we can address momentary frictions through dialogue. I believe that difficult communications are preferable to no communication, and finding solutions with mutual respect cements and strengthens partnerships,” Mr Birla added.