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US wants to prise open Indian mkt

US is asking India to open the retail and defence sector for foreign direct investment, while India wants an easier technology transfer regime from the US.

US commerce secretary Gary Locke on Monday said India needs to do much more to throw open its economy to US exports and investments .

"While many tariffs have come down, others remain. Even when there are no outright tariffs there are non-tariff barriers that limit trade and investment," Locke told reporters at a summit organised by Confederation of India Industry (CII).

"Though India has made tremendous strides to open up its economy, there is much more work that is left to be done," Locke said.

His remarks came after meeting Indian commerce minister Anand Sharma. Locke said he had asked the Indian government to remove trade barriers and allow US firms further market access.

US is asking India to open the retail and defence sector for foreign direct investment, while India wants an easier technology transfer regime from the US.

"If hindrances on investing in India were resolved the country would see a lot more American firms coming in, thus creating more jobs," Locke said. "We welcome the significant growth of investment and trade in goods and services between our two countries but we believe our bilateral commerce is far from its potential," the US commerce secretary said. "We believe that there are mutually beneficial opportunities if American companies can invest here, open operations and hire people. This will help in improving lives of Indians," he added.

The bilateral trade between the countries stood at $50 billion in 2010. On their part the United States has said it would ease restrictions on exports of high technology goods to India in recognition of stronger economic and national security ties.

The US has decided to remove nine India space and defence related companies from its restricted entities list.

The move would help in boosting high technology trade between the countries including Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The step would enable these companies to import high-end technologies and trade in sensitive items without a licence, which was mandatory till now.

Locke, however, raised some concerns over intellectual property rights. "We have concerns about protection of intellectual property rights here. On a discreet level we are concerned on non- tariff barriers and the limitation on direct foreign investment to even on tariffs imposed on a host of services," Locke said.

During the meet, India raised the issue of visa fee hike by the US, saying the move is detrimental to the interest of Indian IT professionals.

"We hope that there will not be any measures which negatively impact the movement of professionals between the two countries,, particularly, our IT professionals in the US," commerce minister Anand Sharma said.

The US has recently hiked visa fees in certain categories of H1B and L1 to fund security measures along the US- Mexico border.

These visas are used mainly by Indian IT professionals. " There will be full cooperation in space technology, nuclear technology and other high- end technologies between the US and India," Sharma said.

Locke's visit is part of a highend technology trade mission from the US to promote the export of technologies in sectors such as civil nuclear energy, aviation and defence to India.

Courtesy: Mail Today