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US Commerce Secretary highlights four areas for doing infrastructure business with India

New Delhi, Mon, 26 Mar 2012 ANI
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New Delhi, Mar.26 (ANI): Visiting United States Commerce Secretary John Bryson on Monday told captains of Indian industry that there were four key reasons for Washington and New Delhi to take their bilateral trade and commercial partnership to the next level, especially in the infrastructure sector.

Speaking at a luncheon sponsored by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (FICCI) here, Bryson said: " I would like to offer four concrete reasons why it makes sense for the U.S. and India to work together in this area: Reason #1 is roads. The U.S. has the largest road system in the world, and India plans to dramatically expand its own road network. American companies have built, maintained, and upgraded America's highway system for more than 50 years - and those companies can help. For example, one of the companies on this mission - Mead West Vaco - offers a special asphalt that has a longer life than others."

"Reason #2 is rail. Indian Railways is one of the largest railroad networks in the world. It's India's largest employer. It has embarked on a massive expansion and modernization plan. America has a long history of driving invention and innovation in rail. Reason #3 is aviation. The fourth-largest civil aviation network in the world is here in India. Recently, we reached an agreement for U.S. participation in the development of 3 regional airports. In addition, one of the companies on this mission - CH2M Hill - is already providing services for the Mumbai airport upgrade," Bryson further said.

He added: "Reason #4 is energy. India is the fastest growing electricity market in the world. We are already collaborating through the U.S.-India Energy Cooperation Program. American businesses stand ready to help improve energy transmission and distribution, and to help develop renewable energy. And I'm very excited about the two new grants from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency that tackle those challenges."

Describing the United States as an exceptionally open market that had imported 36 billion in goods from India in 2011, Bryson said that both Washington and New Delhi needed to remain vigilant to ensure strong and balanced trade growth.

"It is clear that we are on a path that is mutually beneficial for each of our economies. I'm here today, because we can do more. We can find areas where it makes sense for the U.S. and India to collaborate more closely. There is perhaps no greater opportunity to do so than in building India's infrastructure. India's trillion-dollar commitment to infrastructure over the next five years is both ambitious and admirable. As I understand it, this includes as many as 600 major projects, with a strong emphasis on public-private partnership," he said.

"In summary, U.S. companies want to work with companies like yours to help pave the roads, lay the rails, build the airports, and bring energy to people throughout India. By doing so, we can provide opportunities and improve the quality of life for millions of people," Bryson said.

Bryson also said that a second area where the bilateral partnership could see greater progress was in investment.

"The bilateral investment relationship between the U.S. and India is stronger than ever. Many American companies have invested in India over the past five years. Our direct investment is now over 27 billion dollars across a wide range of sectors, including services, manufacturing, information technology, and more. At the same time, India is a fast-growing source of direct investment into the United States," he said.

"My hope is that more India-based companies select the USA for investment. With trade and investment, it is clear that we have great opportunities. But I would be remiss not to mention that barriers still exist to building our economic relationship," he added.

"For example, there are many tariffs on American products that are still too high. Capital goods such as power-generating equipment face a basic duty of 7.5 percent and an effective rate of 22 percent when taxes are added. Some medical products also have a 7.5 percent rate. Grapes, citrus, and other fruits face a 30% duty. Also, we are concerned about measures that interfere with U.S. sourcing decisions in areas like IT, electronics and solar energy. This makes it harder to invest in India. If India is not able to readily access U.S. products or attract strategic investments from U.S. businesses, our progress together could slow down. In the long-term, this could cause significant harm," Bryson said.

"My hope is that business and government leaders in both our countries can join together to send one very clear message. And that is this: Our two democratic countries are serious global business leaders in the 21st century, and we are jointly committed to the principles of fairness, openness, transparency, and a level playing field," he concluded. (ANI)

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