May 30, 2006
By RAJESH MAHAPATRA
AP BUSINESS WRITER
NEW DELHI -- Trade between the United States and India will get a big boost from a civilian nuclear pact between the two countries that should boost U.S high-tech exports and foster trust, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.
Exports and imports between India and the United States have tripled to $26 billion in the past 10 years, but the trade balance has increasingly tilted in favor of India, leaving the U.S. with a deficit of about $10 billion in 2005.
Experts have long argued that the trade gap can be bridged only if the United States eases curbs on American companies that want to sell high technology products and military hardware to India. That should happen once the civilian nuclear deal, sealed by President Bush during a March visit to India, is cleared by the U.S. Congress.
"The civilian nuclear deal is going to have benefits that will cut across sectors," Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Karan Bhatia told reporters.
Bhatia's comments followed talks with Indian officials about doubling the two-way trade between the counties in the next three years.
Both sides discussed steps to reduce trade barriers and improve protection for patents and copyrights, among other issues, Bhatia said.
They also tried to identify areas where India and the U.S. could sign agreements at a planned meeting in Washington in June.
Tuesday's talks also focussed on how the countries could work together to break the current impasse in global trade negotiations, Bhatia said.
Talks at the World Trade Organization to reach a new global treaty by the end of this year have been stalled because of differences over opening up agricultural trade.