Washington: India and the US have agreed to fast track technical negotiations for an early conclusion of a bilateral investment agreement to take advantage of the vast untapped trade potential between the two countries.

They have also agreed to reinvigorate the Trade Policy Forum 'to make it more robust and effective in resolving bilateral commercial ties,' Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters on Wednesday after a 'very productive' meeting with US Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

There would be two rounds of negotiations on the bilateral treaty before the next meeting of the ministerial level TPF expected to be held in India in October, he said.

Noting that the bilateral trade in goods and services had exceeded $85 billion, Sharma said the talks focused on 'what India's growth story stands for and what needs to be done to nurture US-India ties' as he apprised Kirk of various policy approaches being taken by India to sustain its high growth rate.

As he highlighted the opportunities offered by India's growth for the US businesses to develop partnerships with Indian private sector, the minister said he had also raised issues of concern for the Indian industry in their business operations in India.

Kirk, according to a USTR release acknowledged that 'The booming bilateral trade and investment flows between the United States and India support tens of thousands of critical jobs in both countries, and we know that will only grow significantly in the coming years.'

'However, to continue and grow our successes both India and the United States must take concrete steps to resolve long-standing market access and investment concerns,' he said.

On the World Trade Organization Doha Round, Sharma and Kirk 'recognized the challenges that remain in ongoing discussions but expressed their commitment to exploring options for productive next steps,' USTR said.


(Agencies)