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Posted: February 29, 2008
India, US Agree on Time-Bound Steps to Expand High-Tech Trade
(Nanowerk News) Despite uncertainty over the nuclear deal, India and the US Friday agreed on 'a series of time-bound actions' that will bring the level of their high technology trade in tune with their growing strategic partnership.
Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and US Undersecretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Mario Mancuso co-chaired the sixth two-day meeting of the India-US High Technology Cooperation Group (HTCG) that concluded here Friday.
They discussed ways of expanding high technology trade between them, a small but significant portion of which is restricted to India due to nuclear tests it conducted in 1974 and 1998.
'The two sides looked forward to a series of time-bound actions in the above areas to raise high technology commerce to the next level of bilateral cooperation - in keeping with the transformed nature of the strategic partnership between India and the US,' said a statement from the external affairs ministry.
'Highlights of the action plan include a timetable for reviewing export controls in respect of India - building on innovative efforts already underway for simplifying export controls,' the statement said at the end of the talks.
The action plan followed recommendations of the two sides' industries, which held their meeting Thursday, for enhancing US high-tech transfers to India.
'India recognised and welcomed the US administration's announcement of their dual use export control reform initiative,' the statement said.
The two sides discussed the Validated End-User (VEU) programme, a US initiative to simplify export licensing requirements for Indian companies, and agreed that 'further discussions were required' as US export control polices 'should keep pace with the transformed relationship between India and the US'.
Menon underlined India's record in non-proliferation and stressed the importance of US high technology exports to spur India's development that in turn will help the nation achieve the larger goals of better life for its citizens.
Over the years, India's high technology trade with the US has grown steadily which now accounts for 45 percent of $17 US billion exports.
With defence ties emerging as a key pillar of transformed relationship, the group agreed on an ambitious plan to give an impetus to high technology transfers and trade that would address all issues related to licensing and the implementation of India's defence offsets policy. The resolution of these issues would spur collaborations at all levels including small and medium enterprises.
The US did a fine balancing act, assuring India that although the completion of the nuclear deal will be a big step forward, high technology trade will continue to expand regardless of the outcome the deal.
'The civil nuclear deal is different. I would disaggregate 0.2 percent of high technology trade that is restricted to India from the nuclear deal,' Marcuso told reporters after industry-to-industry meeting Thursday.
India has regarded the nuclear deal, aimed at the resumption of global civil nuclear commerce with New Delhi, as a precursor for the dismantling of technology denial regimes that restricted the country's development options.
The deal is, however, languishing due to political opposition by the Left parties in India. The failure to push the deal may slow down the rolling back of technology denial regimes.
The HTCG, formed in 2003, had identified four broad areas of priority for promoting bilateral commerce in advanced technology items between India and the USA: defence and strategic trade, biotechnology, information technology and nanotechnology.
In the area of nanotechnology, the two sides agreed to focus on commercial application of cost-effective solutions in the areas of health, energy, potable water and sustainable development.
The two sides agreed to support advanced technology transfers that would stimulate capacity building in life sciences. 'They also agreed to engage in harmonization of regulatory systems in medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology with ultimate objective of improving market access,' the statement said.
The two countries decided to expand collaboration in trade on advanced electronics and software, high performance computers, encryption and next generation technologies.