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Modi, Obama to deepen ties; target $500 billion India-US trade

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama pledged to deepen economic cooperation and will set up a joint program to boost business investment

Targeting a five-fold jump in Indo-US trade to $500 billion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama today pledged to deepen economic cooperation and will set up a joint program to boost business investment, as per a PTI report.


After two days of talks focused on ways to reinvigorate the US-India relationship through economic, energy and security cooperation, the two sides agreed on $1 billion of concessional financial from the US Export-Import Bank for India's renewable energy development agency.


The two leaders, who met for the first time, agreed on boosting two-way trade to $500 billion from $100 billion. However, no deadline was set for reaching that goal.


"President Obama and Prime Minister Modi recognised that US and Indian businesses have a critical role to play in sustainable, inclusive, and job-led growth and development," a joint statement issued after the meeting said.


In order to raise investment by institutional investors and corporate entities, the leaders decided to establish an Indo-US Investment Initiative led by India's Ministry of Finance and US Department of Treasury, with special focus on capital market development and financing of infrastructure.


They also agreed to establish an Infrastructure Collaboration Platform convened by the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Commerce to enhance participation of US companies in infrastructure projects in India.


"In this context, the US government welcomes India's offer for US industry to be the lead partner in developing smart cities in Ajmer (Rajasthan), Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh)," it said.


India will welcome two trade missions in 2015 focused on meeting its infrastructure needs with US technology and services.


The two leaders discussed their concerns over the current impasse (including on the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes) in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and its effect on the multilateral trading system.


They "directed their officials to consult urgently along with other WTO members on the next steps," the joint statement said.


The two sides committed to work through the Trade Policy Forum to promote a business environment attractive for companies to invest and manufacture in India and in the United States.


They committed to hold public-private discussions in early 2015 under the Commercial Dialogue on new areas of cooperation, including innovation in advanced manufacturing.


Obama welcomed Modi's ambitious plan to extend basic financial services to all its citizens through the Jan Dhan Yojana.


"The President and Prime Minister underlined the important contribution that US locomotive technology, equipment to monitor rail system assets, and US best practices can play in modernising India's vast railway network, including accessing programmes of US Trade and Development Agency in this work," the statement said.


Agreeing on the need to foster innovation in a manner that promotes economic growth and job creation, the leaders committed to establish an annual high-level Intellectual Property (IP) Working Group with appropriate decision-making and technical-level meetings as part of the Trade Policy Forum.


They recognised in particular the contribution of the Indian and US Information Technology industry and the IT-enabled service industry in strengthening India-US trade and investment relations.


Modi and Obama said they looked forward to the annual US-India Economic and Financial Partnership meeting in early 2015.


They also welcomed the expansion of partnership to oversight of financial institutions, including between Reserve Bank of India and the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Office of the Comptroller of Currency.


The two leaders also agreed to reinvigorate the India-US CEO Forum, and welcomed India's offer to host the Forum for the second time in early 2015.


In order to share best practices in manufacturing and work toward greater harmonisation of standards, the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership programme will start a dialogue with Indian counterparts.


The two countries plan to work expeditiously through several joint initiatives to facilitate greater confidence in cross-border trade and investment.


"The President also offered to support the Prime Minister to achieve his goal of preparing young Indians for 21st century jobs through new partnerships to share expertise and global standards for skills development in India, including by reinvigorating the Higher Education Dialogue," the joint statement said.


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