Industry body calls for Indo-US free trade pact

Business Standard

Industry body calls for Indo-US free trade pact

BS Reporter in Chennai | January 23, 2007

The South India Chamber of Commerce and Industry�has emphasised the need for a dialogue between the US and India for drafting a free trade agreement�to further boost trade between the two countries.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with a high-level delegation of US firms based in Singapore, Sicci vice-president A Vellayan said India’s vast pool of talented manpower and its proximity to Singapore would help the interests of the US businessmen in the island nation.

"Chennai is the gateway for Southeast Asia and is considered as a knowledge economy, while Singapore is a business hub for Asian and American businessmen who have established companies in Singapore. The scope for Singapore business to expand out of India is more when they operate out of Chennai, which is the closest point to Singapore from India. Chennai is strategically located as a springboard for US business in Singapore. The availability of a vast talent pool in India will help not only the US businessmen, but also Singapore," Vellayan said.

He pointed out that the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement�signed between the governments of India and Singapore would substantially increase the trade between the two nations.

CECA comprises a free trade agreement, a bilateral agreement on investment promotion and protection as well as an improved Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement.

It also includes a services agreement and work promotion in the areas of healthcare, education, tourism, e-commerce, intellectual property and science and technology.

Vellayan said the US business in Singapore would significantly benefit from the CECA, which would in turn give the Indian economy a fillip.

Replying to Sicci’s demand, US ambassador in Singapore, Patricia L Herbold said discussions were on regarding an FTA agreement.

"Environmental issues, labour and human rights would be incorporated in such an agreement, which would need deep deliberation before being legislated," Herbold said.

David Hopper, Consul General with the US Consulate in Chennai, said the parallel lines of partnership between the US and India, and India and Singapore, were complementary and the synergy between the two trade lines should be harnessed further to increase the Indo-US trade. Trade between India and the US is currently worth $15 billion annually.

source: Rediff