The Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) to the ministerial-level India-United States Trade Policy Forum (TPF) held its second meeting in Chicago on February 20, 2008. The PSAG, headed on the US side by C. Fred Bergsten, agreed on a vision statement for closer economic cooperation between the United States and India, including the creation of the "freest possible environment for trade, investment, and technology transfer between our countries that opens the US and Indian economies on a comprehensive basis." The PSAG presented its vision statement to US Trade Representative Ambassador Susan C. Schwab and Commerce and Industry Minister of India Kamal Nath. The India-United States Trade Policy Forum was created on July 18, 2005, and the PSAG, a group of prominent US and Indian trade experts, was formed April 2007 to provide strategic recommendations to the TPF.
Relations between the United States and India are at an all-time high. People-to-people contacts proliferate; Indian students now number more than 80,000 at American universities and the Indian-American community-more than two million strong-ensures two-way family, cultural, and touristic ties.
Commercial connections have expanded steadily since India began to open its economy in 1991. Services trade is especially robust, and exchanges of goods and foreign direct investment (FDI) in both directions are accelerating.
But the trade and investment relationship has not reached a level either country finds satisfactory. Barriers to trade and investment in both countries remain.
For these reasons, the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) was established in 2005 by the two governments. Its purpose was to find ways to solve trade and investment problems between India and the United States. The Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) has been created by the US and Indian governments to assist the Trade Policy Forum. It is an entity independent of the two governments whose purpose is to provide the TPF with counsel that will help propel closer economic and commercial relations between India and the United States.
In fulfilling its purpose, the PSAG will strive to achieve the freest possible trade regime between our countries by securing a balance between ambition and realism. A long-term target should be to achieve the freest possible environment for trade, investment, and technology transfer between our countries that opens the US and Indian economies on a comprehensive basis. In the meantime, there are many intermediate targets to be attained to create a solid foundation for a much closer trading and investing relationship between India and the United States.
To that end, the PSAG has identified the following intermediate targets for the two governments:
- Negotiate a mutually agreeable bilateral investment treaty by the end of 2008.
- Continue to promote sectoral openings.
- Promote regulatory cooperation.
- Cooperate on all aspects of protection of intellectual property and promotion of technology transfer.
Members of the Private Sector Advisory Group
The US members of the PSAG are C. Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute, Carla A. Hills, former United States Trade Representative and currently chairman and CEO of Hills and Co.; John J. Castellani, president of the Business Roundtable; and Ron Somers, president of the US-India Business Council."
The Indian members of the PSAG are V. Krishnamurthy, Chairman, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council; Isher Judge Ahluwalia, Chairman, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (alternate, Rajiv Kumar, Director, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations); President, Confederation of Indian Industry (alternate, S.S. Mehta, Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry); and President, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (alternate, Amit Mitra, Secretary General, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry).