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Last Updated:[30-06-2009 06:46:12 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Indo-US FTA will be a Reality if Agriculture is excluded

tradenews FICCI president Harsh Pati Singhania while concluding his week-long trip to the US stated that instead of waiting for long, it was in the interest of both the countries to move forward with an Indo-US FTA excluding agriculture. FICCI, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry represents over 1500 corporates and over 500 chambers of commerce and business associations of India.

During Singhania’s visit along with a bi-partisan delegation of parliamentarians he pointed out that North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among the US, Canada and Mexico was signed without agriculture because Canada objected to the inclusion of it. He expressed confidence in letting the Indo-US FTA to happen soon particularly on the basis of concordance shown by the US lawmakers and several US government officials to have it without agriculture for the time being.

India is looking forward to the next month visit of the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton in ironing out differences on all outstanding issues with the US, which saw last July the collapse of Doha Round talks. The Doha Development Round broke down after India, China and Brazil objected to the US farm subsidies that would inundate their markets with imports of farm and industrial goods. Thawing of Indo-US trade ties on agricultural issues is key to the success of forthcoming Doha Round talks in Geneva later this year.

Manmohan Singh’s second term sans Left Front has seen some major changes including the Left’s consensual candidate, Kamal Nath being replaced by Anand Sharma as Commerce and Industry Minister of India despite the former doing a fairly good job during his term. Last month, Sharma on the sidelines of Cairns Group’s, a coalition of agricultural exporting nations summit, while he met his US counterpart Ron Kirk has jointly agreed to take forward the multilateral negotiations and review the Indo-US bilateral ties.

However, the Indian business houses as well as the government is well aware of the fact the delayed Monsoon which is likely to play havoc to the country’s agricultural trade will thereby prevent them from engaging in any trade talks on agri-based issues for the time being. FICCI president’s words must be seen as an indicator that India is ready to conclude FTA with the US in consensual goods, and could include other items only in , the course of time.

By Jose Roy

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