India-US Innovation Forum will aid both countries: Sitharaman (Fourth Lead)

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New Delhi, Aug 30 (IANS) The launch of the India US Innovation Forum on the sidelines of the ongoing India-US Strategic Dialogue here is a good beginning in the exchange of ideas and best practices that would help entrepreneurs of both countries, Indian Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday.

“The launch of the India US Innovation Forum in New Delhi yesterday was a good beginning and I am confident that exchange of ideas and best practices on an ongoing basis would help entrepreneurs of the two countries,” she said in her opening remarks at the second India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue here.

“India-US collaboration in strengthening innovation clusters for mutual benefits is a step in the right direction. Both sides should identify some high-growth potential hubs in the two countries and facilitate partnerships in areas of technology, design, among others,” she said.

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Sitharaman and External Affairs Sushma Swaraj are co-chairs of the dialogue on the Indian side along with Secretary of State John Kerry and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker on the American side.

She noted that there had been significant progress on the recommendations of the India-US CEO Forum as well as under the four work streams of standards, ease of doing business, innovation and entrepreneurship and infrastructure and smart cities.

Noting that India had jumped from a rank of 81 last year to 66 in 2016 in the Global Innovation Index report released here earlier this month, Sitharaman said there has been substantial bilateral engagement on standards.

“Confederation of Indian Industry is progressing with the development of the Standards portal in collaboration with ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and we expect to launch the first version in September 2016,” she said.

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The minister also said India is working closely with the US and other key stakeholders in international fora like the WTO, World Bank, IMF and the UN Security Council.

“We are negotiating some important regional and mega regional free trade agreements with our partners like the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) and India-EUBTIA (European Union-India Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement),” she added.

Sitharaman also said that India’s concerns on the issue of difficulty in obtaining visas by Indians seeking to work in the US had been conveyed to the American government.

“Some of our stakeholders have raised concerns regarding measures which have the potential to act as barriers to the movement of natural persons and professionals. We could hope that specific measures like these, having potential to adversely impact our trade, are avoided,” she said.

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Making her brief opening remarks, Pritzker said that the US and India had now developed a “deeper, more strategic bilateral relationship.”

“We are now asked to be commercial diplomats,” she said.

“We now trade more with each other, invest more in each other, do more business with each other,” she added.

Bilateral trade has currently reached the level of more than $105 billion and the two countries have set the target of taking it to $500 billion.



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