Source: Economic Times
10 Sep 2014
WASHINGTON: India and the US should start negotiating on a free trade agreement to achieve full potential of the bilateral ties, a top Republican senator today said.
“Our governments are currently negotiating a Bilateral Investment Treaty, which is worthwhile. But why not aim instead for a Free Trade Agreement?,” said Senator John McCain.
“India and the United States have, or are negotiating, FTAs with every other major global trading partner, so we are on course to discriminate only against one another. How does that make sense?,” he wondered.
Our goal, McCain said, should be to produce a roadmap for concluding an FTA and to start negotiating it.
The Arizona senator was addressing an event at the prestigious Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a top think-tank here.
“We could then work toward India’s integration into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, once it (the FTA) is finalised.”
Expressing optimism, he said the hurdles could be overcome the way they were surpassed while inking the historic civil nuclear deal.
In 2013, India-US bilateral trade in goods stood at USD 63.7 billion out of which Indian exports accounted for USD 41.8 billion.
To take the relationship further, he suggested co-development and co-production of defense hardware.
“Our militaries must work more closely to sustain a favourable balance of power in key parts of the world,” he said.
“It means America being willing to transfer technology to India that can make its defense acquisitions more effective, and India being able to protect these capabilities as US law requires,” the Senator said.
Batting for joint production in defense sector, he said: “It also means arms sales, but more than that, it should mean joint development and production of leading-edge military systems.”
Describing Modi’s election as “once-in-a-generation mandate” delivered by an Indians are hungry for bold change, he urged the US to seize the momentous occasion.
McCain, however,admitted the difficulties Indo-US ties faced in the recent past.
He was the first top US official to meet Modi after he became the Prime Minister.
Obama and Modi are schedule to meet here on September 29 and 30, the first meeting between the two leaders.