Top U.S. official: U.S.-India two-way trade set to double over three years to $50 billion |

Top U.S. official: U.S.-India two-way trade set to double over three years to $50 billion

NEW DELHI – India and the United States on Wednesday set a three-year target to double their trade to more than $50 billion, a top U.S. official said hours ahead of President Bush’s arrival in the Indian capital.The decision was made at a meeting between Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, who also discussed measures to boost investment flows between the two countries.Portman told reporters that he “accepted the challenge” after Nath proposed to advance the target date for doubling two-way trade, which totaled $26.8 billion last year. “Earlier, we had a plan to double our trade over a five-year period, but now it is three years,” he said.Portman said the two sides discussed how India can draw more investment from U.S. companies, especially in infrastructure projects. India needs $150 billion annually in infrastructure investment to sustain its current economic growth of about 8 percent.An Indian commerce ministry official said the two sides agreed to hold an investment summit in the United States later. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement on this was to be made after leaders of the two countries meet Thursday.Bush arrived late Wednesday on a three-day visit during which the two countries were scheduled to discuss economic ties, security affairs and a landmark nuclear deal.Meanwhile, a forum of 10 chief executives from each country, set up during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Washington in July, finalized a report outlining a roadmap for increased business cooperation.The report would be submitted to Bush and Singh on Thursday, India’s foreign ministry said in a statement.The CEO forum has made a wide range of recommendations including creation of an investment fund to facilitate cross-border capital flows and making Bombay the preferred regional hub for Asian operations of U.S. companies, said an Indian official.The forum also was recommending a joint commission on science and technology and collaborations between top technical institutes from the two countries, said the official, who didn’t want to be named until the report was presented to Bush and Singh.The recommendations of the forum would be discussed by official delegations Thursday.Montek Singh Ahluwalia, head of India’s federal planning body, and Allan Hubbard, Director of the U.S. National Economic Council, are to head their respective delegations at the main economic talks on Thursday in New Delhi, the Indian foreign ministry said.The meeting “is being held to review the progress of the dialogue and discuss the next steps toward strengthening the economic partnership between the two economies,” it said.The United States is India’s largest trading partner and accounts for 16 percent of India’s exports and 6 percent of imports. India accounts for 1 percent of U.S. trade.Vail, Colorado

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