New trade partnership with US
INDIA called on Tuesday for a comprehensive new trade partnership with the United States to open up each other's markets following US President Barack Obama's visit to the emerging South Asian power.
Washington and New Delhi should work towards a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or CEPA, Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said in a speech to a business audience in New Delhi. Such a pact, which aims at slashing tariffs, spurring investment and promoting skills exchanges, is essentially a free trade agreement.
Following Mr Obama's 'successful visit, we should now seriously consider between the two countries engaging in negotiations for a CEPA which encompasses trade investment and services,' Mr Sharma said.
'If we take incremental steps to build up the strong foundation we have, India and the US truly can make this a partnership that could be defining, that would bring about a paradigm shift in the global architecture,' Mr Sharma said.
Even though India is becoming increasingly a global player, it is only the United States' 12th largest trading partner, while the United States is India's second biggest trading partner after China.
Responding to Mr Sharma's call, US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who accompanied Mr Obama to India, was guarded, telling reporters the two countries 'have a variety of different economic agreements that we are working on. 'Everything will have to be done in stages. We have to take it step by step,' Mr Locke said, highlighting Washington's concerns over India's 'opaque' foreign investment regulations.