Millennium Post

US working on investment with India

US working on investment with India
Months after it unveiled a model bilateral investment treaty [BIT], a top Obama Administration official has said the US is working on BIT with a number of countries, including India, China and Mauritius.

This is a part of the Obama Administration’s effort to promote investment policies and enhance trade, the US Trade Representatives Ron Kirk said at Coalition of Service Industries 2012 Global Services Summit.

‘Earlier this year, the Administration concluded a thorough review of the US’ model bilateral investment treaty [BIT]. We enhanced transparency and public participation, sharpened the disciplines that address preferential treatment to state-owned enterprises and strengthened protections relating to labour and the environment,’ he said.

‘With these new policy tools, US negotiators are now advancing efforts to secure high-standard BITs with trading partners such as China and India, as well as Mauritius. We have also resumed exploratory BIT discussions with a number of countries including Ghana, Cambodia, Russia, and the East African Community [EAC],’ he added.

Kirk said the US is focused on enhancing services trade through existing agreements. For example, the US-Korea agreement, which is in force, provides new opportunities for US service suppliers in the USD 580 billion Korean services market.

‘Similarly, US investors and service suppliers are starting to take advantage of new opportunities under our recently implemented trade agreement with Colombia,’ he said.

Kirk also said direct dialogue is essential for enhancing services trade and investment.

For example, China is the fastest growing auto market in the world. Through bilateral engagement, the US persuaded China to open its market for certain mandatory auto insurance.

‘Of course, when negotiations and dialogue are not able to remove discriminatory barriers to trade sufficiently, it may be necessary to utilise appropriate trade enforcement tools.

‘In July, a WTO Panel agreed with US claims that China’s pervasive and discriminatory measures in the electronic payment services [EPS] sector deny a level playing field to financial services suppliers from the US and other countries,’ Kirk said.

China has now accepted the Panel’s ruling and the US is working with China to ensure that these practices end, he added.


‘INDIA-EU MUST DECIDE ON MARKET ACCESS ISSUES’

India and the European Union [EU] have to soon take a call on critical issues concerning market access to conclude the proposed free trade agreement by end of this year, a top official said.

Although India and the 27-nation bloc are hoping that a deal can be struck before their annual summit in February, several issues related with market access are yet to be resolved.

India and the 27-nation bloc are negotiating the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement [BTIA] since June 2007 and have missed several deadlines to conclude the talks. ‘The time has come when both the sides must take a call on resolving all the issues related with market access if they want to conclude the agreement within the stipulated time. Many issues related with market access have not yet been resolved,’ the official said.

If the global economic crisis would not stabilise by next year, it would be difficult for both the sides to seal the pact, the official added. ‘The call has to be taken at the political level. In October, chief negotiators of both the sides will meet here and then in November a meeting will be held at ministerial level,’ the official said. The free trade agreement, officially dubbed as BTIA, seeks to sharply reduce tariffs on goods and liberalise services and investments provisions. According to trade experts, the agreement would help Indian companies to expand into the EU, the country’s biggest trading partner. Europe wants access to a big market of 1.2 billion potential customers in India.

The EU wants India to open its services sector like accountancy, insurance, banking and retail. The negotiations are stuck on issues such as reduction in tariffs on cars and wines and spirits imported from the EU.
PTI

PTI

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