U.S., India Agree on Steps to Increase Trade but See No Progress on Trade Facilitation Pact

President Obama and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi discussed a number of trade and investment issues at their first bilateral summit in Washington, D.C., this week but made no real progress on moving ahead with implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement. India has insisted on securing an accelerated timetable for addressing its concerns on food safety and agricultural subsidies before voting to add the TFA to the codex of WTO rules. However, following their meeting the two leaders said only that they discussed their concerns about the impasse and “directed their officials to consult urgently along with other WTO members on the next step.”U.S, INDIA

A joint statement issued after the summit indicated that the two sides have agreed on the following measures to promote bilateral trade and investment.

– noting that two-way trade has increased fivefold since 2001 to nearly $100 billion, committed to facilitate the actions necessary to increase trade another fivefold, although with no specified timeframe

– to increase investment by institutional investors and corporate entities, pledged to establish an Indo-U.S. Investment Initiative that will have special focus on capital market development and infrastructure financing

– pledged to establish an Infrastructure Collaboration Platform convened by the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Commerce to enhance the participation of U.S. companies in infrastructure projects in India

– India will welcome two trade missions in 2015 focused on meeting its infrastructure needs with U.S. technology and services

– underlined the contribution that U.S. locomotive technology, equipment to monitor rail system assets, and U.S. best practices can play in modernizing India’s railway network

– committed to work through the Trade Policy Forum to promote a business environment attractive for companies to invest and manufacture in India and the U.S. (however, no date for a meeting of the TPF, which has not met since 2010, was announced)

– committed to establish an annual high-level Intellectual Property Working Group with appropriate decision-making and technical-level meetings as part of the TPF

– committed to hold public-private discussions in early 2015 under the U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue on new areas of cooperation, including innovation in advanced manufacturing

– to share best practices in manufacturing and work toward greater harmonization of standards, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership program will start a dialogue with Indian counterparts

– agreed to reinvigorate the India-U.S. CEO Forum and welcomed India’s offer to host the forum in early 2015

– welcomed the conclusion of an agreement that would make up to $1 billion in financing available to bolster India’s efforts to transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient energy economy while boosting U.S. renewable energy exports to India.