Barack Obama, Manmohan Singh meeting need to address economic issues: experts

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'US currently trades more with the Netherlands, Taiwan, Korea, and Saudi Arabia than with India.'(AP) 'US currently trades more with the Netherlands, Taiwan, Korea, and Saudi Arabia than with India.'(AP)
Summary'US currently trades more with the Netherlands, Taiwan, Korea, and Saudi Arabia than with India.'

US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should use their meeting next week to resolve the differences on economic issues and come out with a policy framework to realise the full potential of the two countries, eminent US experts have said.

"Prime Minister Singh's upcoming visit to Washington should be used by both sides as an opportunity to re-affirm these commonalities and put the economic relationship on a much more positive and accelerated trajectory," said Charlene Barshefsky, the former US Trade Representative from 1997-2001.

In a keynote address on 'US-India Economic Relations: A Reality Check' hosted by eminent think-tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, Barshefsky rued at the policies of both the countries, which now have become the issues for each other, and said this is a relationship that should be stronger and healthier and should be contributing to both countries' economic growth more than it is today.

Despite impressive trends in the past decade, she said the trade and investment ties with India today is characterised more by unrealised potential than fulfilled opportunity.

"The economic relationship should be stronger and more robust than it is ¿ by virtue of the size of our economies and populations, as well as the strength of our strategic relationship. Despite being on track to become the world's 3rd largest economy, India is only America's 13th largest trade partner," she said.

The US currently trades more with the Netherlands, Taiwan, Korea, and Saudi Arabia than with India, she added.

Barshefsky said a number of specific recent Indian policies - and failures to lift trade barriers – have disrupted the trajectory of the economic relationship.

Collectively, the selective undermining of foreign-held intellectual property, restrictive procurement rules, and failure to ease market access restrictions across numerous sectors call into question India's commitment to modernisation and will require a number of critical reforms, she said.

India has been selectively overriding intellectual property rights of multinational companies and adopting troubling approaches to IP, she alleged, adding that the Indian government has turned to "compulsory licenses" to overturn patent rights.

Also the potential of the US-India civilian nuclear cooperation accord has not been realised in light of India's nuclear liability law that appears to be out of step with international standards and has deterred investment by many nuclear energy firms, she added.

At the same time, the US should recognise that India has concerns with US policy - concerns that must be addressed.

"First, the intractable immigration

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