WASHINGTON: A top US think-tank has launched an India-US trade initiative aimed to strengthen economic ties and meet the two countries’ bilateral trade target of $500 billion.

Launched by Atlantic Council yesterday, the initiative has the support of two powerful Senators – John Corny of the Republican Party and Mark Warner of the Democratic Party. The two are also Co-Chairs of Senate India Caucus, the only country specific caucus in the US Senate.

“As the largest and oldest democracies in the world, India and the United States share a relationship built on common values. By further increasing trade between our two countries, we have an opportunity to strengthen our unique bond, advance American interests in the region, and grow both economies,” Cornyn said.

“Bilateral trade between the two countries already exceeds $100 billion annually. I hope we continue to work to harness the full potential of US and Indian cooperation to increase bilateral trade and provide more economic opportunities for companies in both the US and India,” Warner said.

The Atlantic Council US-India Trade Initiative aims to generate American support for continued economic engagement in India and to forge collaboration on issues of trade and commerce, a statement said.

In an effort to leverage, sustain, and promote the positive developments in trade relations between the two countries, the Initiative will develop policy briefs and strategy papers, convene US-India trade workshops and host a flagship US-India Trade Conference with policymakers, practitioners and private-sector leaders, it said.

The Initiative will address seven of the most crucial areas of the US-India trade relationship, including smart cities, infrastructure, defense, financial institutions, insurance, trade agreements and intellectual property rights, the Council said in a statement.

India and the US enjoy a robust and thriving trade relationship which holds tremendous potential for the future in a number of sectors including renewable energy, infrastructure, smart cities, IT services, digital economy, and defense, said Indian Ambassador to the US Arun Singh.

“The elevation of the Strategic Dialogue between the two countries to a Strategic and Commercial Dialogue is a testimony to the importance of our trade and commercial ties in strengthening our bilateral partnership,” Singh said.

Atlantic Council Chairman Jon Huntsman said the US-India bilateral relationship holds immense economic potential for both countries and should be a priority for the incoming administration.

“The Atlantic Council is committed to playing an active role in promoting trade relations between the US and India and helping cement a pathway for broader cooperation,” he said.