In order to reflect the significance of the trade and economic engagement between Indian and the USA, the delegations of both the countries will meet for the second Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD) on Tuesday, August 30, 2016, in New Delhi.
THE S&CD was scheduled following the decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Obama in 2015 to elevate the India-US Strategic Dialogue to a Strategic and Commercial Dialogue.
In the afternoon, the S&CD Plenary is scheduled to be held and will be led by the Indian side by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and minister of state for Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitharaman. The United States delegation will be led by Secretary of State, John Kerry and Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker. Two Co-Chairs of CEOs Forum, Cyrus Mistry, chairman of the Tata Group from Indian side and Dave Cote, chairman & CEO of Honeywell International from US side would also be present at S&CD plenary.
The engagement is likely to cover the discussion between Indian and US CEOs in the while bilateral discussions would be held thereafter, separately under the two tracks.
The first S&CD plenary was held in September 2015 at Washington DC and identified the focused areas of cooperation under the two tracks – Strategic and Commercial. The current S& CD would be reviewing the progress made so far in strengthening the agreed upon issues and lay down the road map for the ensuing year, under the two tracks.
The US Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker and the Director of National Economic Council, Jeffrey Zients meeting the Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley, in New Delhi. Image Courtesy: PIB
The Commercial Track of S&CD will be led by Nirmala Sitharaman from India side and Penny Pritzker from the United States. The two ministers will preside the CEO Forum along with Tata Group’s Cyrus Mistry, Honeywell’s Dave Cote as the two co-chairs from India and United States respectively. The Governments on both sides have taken into account the recommendations and have also encouraged greater B2B exchanges. Some of the major areas of intervention following the CEO Forum recommendations are as follows:
• In line with the CEO Forum recommendations to boost the renewable energy sector, the both sides are working on the US-India Energy Finance Initiatives, which is expected to mobilise upto US$ 400 million by 2020.
• Similarly, to ease the defence production procedures, the Government of India has introduced a new Defence Procurement Procedure which has made it much simpler to take advantage of the immense opportunity for defence production in India.
• The Government of India has shortlisted 33 cities for development as smart cities and will be collaborating with U.S on three of these. Also, the U.S.-India CEO Forum developed a Smart Cities Strategic Framework.
• In addition, given the focus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, various policies and measures, including the creation of Sister Innovation Hubs, and develop the Innovation ecosystem in the country. There has been very productive U.S-India CEO Forum-led Digital Infrastructure Best Practices Exchange Workshops in New Delhi, Jaipur, and Visakhapatnam from August 2-5, 2016.
• Both sides are working together to encourage participation of all stakeholders in the regional Global Connect conference to be held on September 15, 2016, in New Delhi.
• FDI reforms: As part of FDI reform measures, the FDI policy has been further simplified and conditions relaxed. Norms have been relaxed in brownfield pharma sector, processed food, defence production, railways etc.
• FDI inflow trends: Reforms undertaken in the recent months have shown positive results and FDI inflows into India has increased at a time when globally, there is a decline in the investment flows. Total FDI inflow into India which was at US$ 36 billion during 2013-14 increased to US$ 44.2 billion in 2014-15 and has further shown an increasing trend as during the year 2015-16, India received US$ 55.4 billion as FDI, the highest in a year so far.
• FDI from USA: FDI from the USA has also shown a positive growth trend and during the years 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 it was US$ 806 million, US$ 1824 million and US$ 4190 million, respectively. This corresponds to an increase of 500% in two years.
The CEO Forum Meeting will review the status on the action taken on the recommendations submitted by the forum in its two meeting held in 2015 and make fresh recommendations for further expanding trade and investment between both the countries.
The two sides had agreed on four work streams to facilitate economic development initiatives, namely, (a) infrastructure collaboration and smart cities, (b) ease of doing business, (C) Innovation and Entrepreneurship and (d) Standards.
The discussions are expected to take place regarding smart city master planning activities for three cities for which MoU has been signed between India and US, i.e. Ajmer, Allahabad and Vizag. Similarly, both sides are expected to discuss the possibilities for collaboration in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship and also exchange information and best practices relating to improving ease of doing business. The collaboration between National Physical Laboratory and BIS on the Indian side and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on the US side relating to reference material production (RMP), metrological standards, physical and mechanical standards which are crucial to ensure adherence to international quality requirements for a range of products. The CII-ANSI MoU signed during the last S & CD for the development of a portal is also likely to be discussed.
On the sidelines of the S & CD a Roundtable is also being organised to discuss the issues relating to Standards and Conformity assessment on 29-08-2016. The Roundtable is organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Cooperation in Standards is one of the 4 work streams identified under S&CD Commercial Track by India and US.