Washington, United States: Days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the Silicon Valley, India and the US have agreed to launch a forum next year to boost innovation and related two-way investment and trade.
The two countries will launch a private sector-led Innovation Forum, which will serve as an additional avenue through which the two governments seek private sector feedback and input for bilateral discussions, the State Department said in a fact sheet released after the conclusion of the India US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue yesterday.
The Forum will consider a set of rotating topics to ignite and scale innovation, increase related two-way investment and trade, support the advancement of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and identify where specific skill sets are needed to propel innovation forward, it said.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies will serve as a convener of the annual Innovation Forum, and will be supported by a steering committee comprising organisations from both countries, it said.
The Innovation Forum will be memorialised in a broader Memorandum of Understanding related to innovation and entrepreneurship between the US and Indian governments, it added.
India and the US also agreed to support the efforts of the Harvard Business School and the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad to develop a cluster map.
This tool will help Indian companies integrate into global supply chains, strengthen India's economy and better enable American companies to identify markets for their products and services in India, the State Department said.
Cluster mapping will help US and Indian decision-makers develop more effective, evidence-based commercial linkages that will drive economic growth and development and enhance two-way trade and investment, it said.
According to the State Department, the two countries are working together to participate in the development of international standards and technical regulations to boost trade and help reduce administrative and logistical burdens, which disproportionately affect small and medium-sized enterprises.
The two sides will engage their respective industries to identify sectors where standards and conformity assessment-focused cooperative dialogues could lead to mutual benefit and increased trade, it said.
The US and India also announced a private sector-led collaboration to update a bilateral standards portal, which facilitates the sharing of information to improve industry understanding of market access requirements in both countries.
India has agreed to ratify the WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and has acknowledged the benefits its provisions would have not only for Indian exporters, but for importers as well, the State Department said.
The US and India continue to communicate on specific matters related to international trade to better understand our respective policies and procedures, and will seek ways to improve our processes, it said.
Noting the countries held the most recent round of discussions toward a high-standard bilateral investment treaty (BIT) in March 2015, it said a high-standard BIT would deepen the bilateral economic relationship and support economic growth and job creation in both countries.
"We plan to continue discussions to assess the prospects for a high standard BIT," the State Department said. India and the US are working together to participate in the development of international standards and technical regulations to boost trade and help reduce administrative and logistical burdens, which disproportionately affect small and medium sized enterprises.
To support the removal of barriers that impact the global supply chain, the United States and India will exchange best practices for the operation of national Enquiry Points under the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade and will explore opportunities for more cooperation on reference standards between India's National Physical Laboratories (NPL) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).