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India, US to focus on bilateral trade

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Bush arrives in Delhi on 3-day visit

WARM WELCOME: The US President, Mr George W. Bush, being welcomed by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on his arrival in the Capital on Wednesday. — Kamal Narang

New Delhi , March 1

During the visit of the US President, Mr George W. Bush, India and the US are likely to announce several new initiatives aimed at boosting bilateral trade in the next three years.

Ahead of Mr George Bush visit, the two sides have also resolved the long-pending dispute over India getting entry into the US market. For several years, Indian mangoes have been facing non-trade barriers such as sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures from the US side.

The issue has been resolved at a meeting of the India-US Trade Policy Forum, co-chaired by the Commerce and Industries Minister, Mr Kamal Nath, and the United States Trade Representative (USTR), Mr Rob Portman.

Mr. Portman said that US businessmen are looking at large investments into India, particularly in infrastructure and energy sectors. He indicated that the high-level trade policy group was looking into the issue of US allowing entry to refurbished Indian computers, as also lifting anti-dumping duty on Indian shrimp.

Investment summit

The forum also proposed to hold bilateral Investment Summit with a focus on small and medium enterprises (SMEs). ``We will take this idea of investment summit to the two leaders,'' Mr Kamal Nath told newspersons after the forum meeting.

The US is currently India's largest trading partner. It now accounts for 16.48 per cent of India's exports and 6.26 per cent imports. However, India accounts for only 1.06 per cent of the total external trade of the US.

During April-November 2005, India's exports to the US stood at $10.06 billion saw a growth of 15.05 per cent. Imports for this period were $4.58 billion with a growth of 16.74 per cent.

Mr Bush arrived here tonight on a three-day official visit strongly backing a nuclear deal with on which his officials were in touch with their Indian counterparts even from his special aircraft, reports PTI.

Setting aside protocol, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, greeted the US leader at a heavily-guarded Delhi airport where Air Force One 747 landed shortly before 8 p.m after a surprise four-hour stop over in Kabul.

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