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Quality norms, smart cities to top agenda in India-US talks


India and the U.S. will focus on measures to improve the quality of goods and services, develop smart cities as well as promote entrepreneurship and innovation during the forthcoming bilateral Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD).

Talks are also likely on ‘ease of doing business’ initiatives in the context of the Parliament recently passing the Constitution Amendment Bill for Goods and Services Tax, according to official sources.

Trade, defence

The S&CD is the main bilateral forum to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation in areas including trade and defence. The S&CD will be held in New Delhi during August 29-31. It will be co-chaired by the Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Secretary of State John Kerry.

This will be the second S&CD and the first such meeting in India. The first S&CD was held in Washington DC in September 2015.

The sources said discussions on ‘standards’ — or norms to improve the quality of goods & services — will focus on cooperation between India’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and America’s National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) to develop reference materials. They said talks will be held with representatives from NIST as it is a leader in developing ‘reference materials’ — or precursors to ‘standards’ for ensuring the quality of products and their traceability.

Bureau of Indian Standards officials will also join the discussions, they said. NPL and BIS are national bodies on ‘standards’ in India. India and the U.S. will also consider a partnership between BIS and NIST for analysis of notifications made at the World Trade Organisation on food safety, and animal & plant health measures as well as on technical regulations, standards, and conformity assessment procedures.

India and the U.S. will also assess the progress made by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the American National Standards Institute in developing an online portal for standards information that can be used by the industry, especially small and medium firms.

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