US, India to discuss bilateral trade, WTO talks

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Washington, Sep 21: Top US and Indian officials will meet next week to discuss ways to boost business ties as well as last-ditch efforts to reach a world trade deal, the top US trade office said.

US Trade Representative Susan Schwab and Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath will meet on Monday as part of the US-India Trade Policy Forum created two years ago, said Sean Spicer yesterday, a spokesman for Schwab's office.

The meetings in New York include discussions with top business executives from leading companies in the United States and India. One possible topic is a free trade agreement between the United States and India, although it could be years before any negotiations are launched, a US industry official said.

The US-India talks coincide with the annual start of the U.N. General Assembly session. President George W Bush is expected to stress US determination to reach a new world trade deal in his speech to the United Nations.

India and Brazil, as leaders the G20 developing country negotiating bloc, have pressed the United States for deeper farm subsidy cuts than it has offered so far.

Washington has signaled willingness to move further on farm subsidies, but says that action depends on advanced developing countries like India and Brazil opening their markets to more foreign farm and manufactured goods.

Many experts believe there is small window of opportunity over the next four to six weeks to reach a breakthrough in the world trade talks before the 2008 US presidential election campaign makes further negotiation too difficult.

Bush is expected to discuss the nearly 6-year-old round of trade negotiations with Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva while in New York.

Schwab and Brazil Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, his country's lead trade negotiator, were expected to attend that session as well, Spicer said.


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