‘US in conversation with India for its APEC membership’

By: | Published: May 12, 2016 8:41 AM

The Obama administration is in talks with India on understating its interest to become a member of APEC forum for 21 Pacific Rim member-economies...

The Obama administration is in talks with India on understating its interest to become a member of APEC forum for 21 Pacific Rim member-economies that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region, a top US diplomat has said.

“Largely, the conversation is around better understanding of its desire for membership in APEC and India’s approach and philosophy as it comes into largely economically focused body on important issues of open free and fair trade,” Indian- American Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal said yesterday.

Biswal, who is Obama administration’s point person for South and Central Asia except for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was responding to a question on India’s desire to become a member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies promoting free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

US President Barack Obama along with the top officials of his administration has welcomed India’s desire in this regard and the two countries are holding talks on this issue.

“I think those are conversations on going between the administration and the government of India and I think those conversations would help chart the path of how to move forward on India’s interest,” Biswal said.

“The President has welcomed India’s interest in APEC. The size of the Indian economy make sit one that we want to engage with and engage in an ambitious but constructive way.

“India’s interest is one that we certainly welcome that, which we have not only heard from the President but across all the levels of our government,” she said, adding that there are multiplicity of views with respect to India’s entry into APEC.

Recently, legislations have been introduced in the House of Representative and the Senate asking US secretary of state to develop a strategy for India becoming an APEC member.

Responding to another question on bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between India and the US, Biswal said this would greatly advance and facilitate additional American investment in India and would create a level playing field for American companies and for American investment so that there are necessary safeguards and protections for that investment.

“We are already starting to see that US investment is starting to flow towards India and in fact India because surpass China is the largest destination for some segment of American investment and we are likely to see that trend continue.

“We are in the midst of discussion on the bilateral investment treaty to ensure that there is a commitment on both sides to be able to address some of the areas of discrepancy between India’s model BIT and what we see as a high standard investment treaty and were hopeful and confident that those discussions can lead to the formal launching of negotiations,” Biswal added.

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