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Press Release on the visit of Commerce & Industry Minister of India Mr. Anand Sharma to US

Washington, DC
June 17, 2009 

Commerce and Industry Minister Mr. Anand Sharma met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today. She said that the Obama administration was keen to work on developing a more comprehensive and intensive bilateral relationship to build on the progress over the last fifteen years. The discussions covered the effect of the economic downturn on the two economies and the way ahead for WTO negotiations. The Minister said that while a perfect solution may be elusive, it should be possible to find a fair solution acceptable to all parties, while keeping in mind that development was central to the Doha Round. He also briefed Secretary Clinton about the programmes being undertaken by the Government to stimulate domestic demand while providing a social security net to the most vulnerable sections of the society, including through the successful implementation of the national Rural Employment Guarantee Programme. The Minister said that the Government was looking forward to the forthcoming visit of Secretary of State to India and expressed confidence that her leadership would give a special impetus to the relations between the two countries. 

Speaking at the Annual Summit of the United States India Business Council, which was also addressed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Minister underlined that the existing level of trade and economic engagement was not commensurate with the potential which existed in the wake of India’s far-reaching economic liberalization. Citing the findings of the study entitled “Contribution of the Indian industry to the US economy” prepared for the India Brand Equity Foundation which he released at the Summit, the Minister mentioned that over 2004-07, Indian industry had contributed USD 105 billion to the US economy and created 300,000 jobs. This, he said, revealed a story of commitment to optimize and to invest in the future of the relationship. He underlined that India and the US were partners in progress and could together shape the 21st century. 

Other senior US Government officials who participated in the Summit were the US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and US Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk. 

The Minister interacted with key leaders of US and Indian industry during the Summit which attracted an attendance of over five hundred.

Later in the day, Minister met United States Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk. This was his second meeting with Ambassador Kirk; the two had met on the sidelines of the Cairns Ministerial Group meeting in Bali. Both sides discussed bilateral issues of mutual interest and explored the ways and means for increasing bilateral trade and investment. They agreed to revive the dialogue on trade issues and to focus on resolving them to the extent feasible. The Minister emphasized that there were numerous opportunities that could be harnessed in the bilateral economic relationship even against the background of the global downturn. They welcomed the move towards resumption of Doha talks and agreed to work together towards resolving outstanding issues. Minister Sharma invited Ambassador Kirk to visit India for the meeting of the G 20 Trade Ministers as well as for bilateral discussions.

The Minister also had a meeting at the US Congress with the leadership of the Sub-Committee on Trade of the House Ways and Means Committee. In his meeting with Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Trade Representative Sander Levin and Ranking Member Kevin Brady, the focus was on the Doha Round. The Minister shared with the congressmen some details of the steady growth in Indian investments in the United States.

Ambassador Meera Shankar hosted a dinner reception in honour of the Commerce and Industry Minister in the evening, which was attended by a number of Congressmen, officials and business leaders from India and the U.S. 

Tomorrow Minister Sharma is scheduled to have bilateral meeting with United States Commerce Secretary Mr. Gary Locke. He is also scheduled to deliver an address at the Peterson Institute for International Economics on “India in a Globalised World”.