US Vice-President Joe Biden to urge India to lift trade barriers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 July, 2013, 3:29am

US Vice-President Joe Biden will press India to do more to open up trade and protect intellectual property during a trip to the Asia-Pacific region this week that will also highlight US concern about aggressive Chinese navy patrols in the oil-rich South China Sea.

The trip comes as Asian economies struggle to adjust to a slowdown, a situation Biden said could improve if countries including India and China pursue economic reforms.

"We want to help lead in creating the 21st century rules of the road that will benefit not only the United States, and the region, but the world as a whole," Biden said.

US business groups this year have escalated their complaints about India's trade practices, complaining its policies discriminate against American firms or undermine US intellectual property rights, especially for pharmaceuticals.

Bilateral trade between the US and India is worth almost US$100 billion per year. Biden said there is room to increase that by five times, if barriers were lowered. Tomorrow, he will meet President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in New Delhi.

Biden will also visit Singapore, where he will talk about trade. But he will also be talking with Singaporean President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong about tensions over the South China Sea.

China has asserted claims over large parts of the territory and made its presence felt by stepping up navy patrols.

Singapore is a part of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is negotiating new maritime rules with China that Biden said were needed to lower tensions.

"The US government is concerned about certain patterns of activity that have unfolded in these areas. I think you can expect that he will address this issue head-on while he is there," an administration official said.