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‘India presents fantastic opportunities for US firms’

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : With India presenting “fantastic opportunities” for American companies in infrastructure development, the US is making it a priority to help private sector help meet India’s growing needs, according to a senior official.

“India presents fantastic opportunities for US companies to provide the goods and services needed to build its railroads, airports, power plants, and fibre optic cables to facilitate India’s rise,” Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robert Blake said Tuesday.

Speaking on “India: The Rise of an Economic Power” at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, he held out an assurance “that US is making it a priority to work with our private sector to give them the opportunities to help meet India’s growing needs.”

“Over the last decade, India became our 14th largest goods trading partner and we exchanged $37.6 billion in goods in 2009,” Blake noted. “US foreign direct investment in India reached $16.1 billion in 2008, a 10.8 percent increase from 2007.”

“Television shows like ‘Outsourced’ and the often heated rhetoric on Capitol Hill might lead you to think that India’s tremendous and swift rise as an economic power has come at the expense of American jobs,” Blake said.

The numbers, however, show otherwise and speak to increasingly balanced trade and investment relations between the US and India, he said.

During President Barack Obama’s visit to India in November, trade deals were announced that exceeded $14.9 billion in total value with $9.5 billion in US export content, supporting over 50,000 US jobs.

India is also a notable source of foreign direct investment into the United States, with $4.5 billion FDI into the US in 2008, up 60 percent from the previous year, Blake said.

With a market of 1.2 billion of the world’s consumers, and per capita incomes forecasted to grow at a rate of 8 percent over the next several years, India’s market offers tremendous opportunity to US exporters of goods and services, Blake said.

Taking note of recent press reports about the imminent opening of the multi-brand retail sector to foreign investment, Blake hoped “that the Indian government realises that further openings, such as in agriculture and defence sectors, would benefit Indian consumers and its economy.”

“Our governments need to match the ambition of our businesses,” he said. “Washington and Delhi must serve as catalysts for growth and innovation, not stifle entrepreneurial spirit with overbearing bureaucracies.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])