“Taking Bilateral Trade to $500 Billion”
Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Richard Verma
At the 11th Indo-U.S. Economic Summit
Hosted by Indo-American Chamber of Commerce
Monday, September 14, 2015
New Delhi, India
(As prepared for delivery)
Good morning and thank you for the warm introduction, Dr. Bhasin. I am honored to share the dais with the Honorable Minister for Finance; Information and Broadcasting; and Corporate Affairs, Sri Arun Jaitley, and other distinguished leaders of business and industry. I would like to thank the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce for organizing the 11th Indo-U.S. Economic Summit and for inviting me and several of my colleagues from the American Embassy to participate. In fact, I look forward to addressing another IACC audience in Houston, Texas on September 19 when I return to the United States for the U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue. It is an honor and a pleasure for me to be with you all this morning.
The theme of this year’s Summit, “Taking Bilateral Trade to 500 Billion Dollars,” is especially relevant as our bilateral trade in goods and services recently crossed the 100 billion dollar threshold, five times what it was just a dozen years ago. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and President Obama, our governments are working together on increased engagement and new initiatives to reach the 500 billion dollar goal in the years to come. We have made incredible progress in the past year and look forward to even greater strides going forward.
And it’s not just our governments, but our vibrant private sectors which play the critical role in increased trade. As one of the world’s fastest growing economies, India offers some remarkable opportunities for American and Indian businesses alike. Government and industry together are cooperatively engaged in, infrastructure and logistics, clean and renewable energy, hospitality and tourism, and the “Digital India,” Smart Cities, and “Make in India” initiatives. I am happy to note that this Summit will address these themes in detail.
India’s economic and investment climate will in part determine the success of these initiatives – and bilateral trade. Whether it’s improving the ease of doing business or establishing commercial courts or streamlining government services through e-governance initiatives, the Modi government is aware and is acting to improve the business climate.
In addition to improving the business climate, another reason for optimism is the current trend towards cooperative federalism and encouragement of states to compete for investment. I think we’re seeing an increasing “race to the top” among Indian states to attract investment, including foreign direct investment, which will be good for India and for our relationship as well. You only have to look at the numbers to see that U.S. investments in India have soared – from a total of 7.7 billion dollars in 2004 to 28 billion dollars today. There are over 500 U.S. companies active in India, while the number of Indian companies operating in the United States has increased from roughly 85 companies in 2005 to over 200 companies today.
Ten years ago, the United States and India conducted very little defense trade. What a difference a decade makes! Over the last few years, the United States has signed approximately 10 billion dollars in contracts for defense sales to India. Our defense cooperation has helped promote India’s role as a security provider in the Indian Ocean region, with direct benefit to third countries. For example, in recent years, the Indian Air Force used American-made C-130s and C-17 aircraft to evacuate Indian and third country nationals from Yemen and speed relief supplies to Nepal after its devastating earthquake. In doing so, we have demonstrated vividly that close cooperation between our countries not only benefits each of us, but also benefits the world. Now we are taking the security partnership to a new level as we embark on co-development and co-production of defense technologies.
We are also actively encouraging Indian investment and job creation in the United States. Over the past few years, India has become the second fastest growing source of foreign direct investment into the United States. In fact, more than 91,000 jobs were created and 15 billion dollars invested in the U.S., according to a recent survey of 100 Indian companies in the United States. Indian companies collectively have a geographical footprint in every state in the nation, are diversified in sectors from IT to automotive to construction, and the overwhelming majority of these companies intend to make additional investments and hire more employees in the U.S. in the next five years. There is plenty of optimism to be shared by both India and the U.S., attesting to the strength of our private sectors and the role they play in our nations’ economic growth.
In fact the excitement in the relationship over the past year is driven by the potential of how much farther we can go. We are expecting a very exciting fall as Washington plays host to the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue between our two nations a week from today, which will advance our discussions at the highest levels on important issues like innovation and entrepreneurship, infrastructure and smart cities, standards harmonization, and promoting a business climate that facilitates increased two-way trade and investment.
To add to the excitement, Prime Minister Modi will make his return visit to New York, and be the first Indian PM to visit California in decades. There is quite a buzz around the PM’s visit to San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and not just from the vibrant Indian-American community there, which over the last two decades has helped to transform the high technology sector and bring our nations’ culture of innovation and entrepreneurship even closer. Prime Minister Modi’s visit will provide an opportunity to explore how new technologies can help India with issues such as building safe, clean, and smart cities, providing opportunity for a quality education, securing reliable electricity for hundreds of millions of its people, and much more. American businesses are very eager to partner with India to find new solutions to these issues.
This Summit brings together leaders representing both Indian and American businesses, who will not only understand the problems, but find solutions. As you discuss the way forward, I wish to affirm that the United States welcomes and shares India’s commitment to economic growth and increasing our trade relationship.
I applaud IACC for hosting today’s Summit. This chamber is in a unique position, representing thousands of members across many industries. As a partner for the progress of Indo-U.S. economic ties, I urge you to continue to provide policy recommendations and industry insights – they are invaluable to the decision makers on both sides.
As we look to strengthen and expand the trade relationship between India and the United States, both government and private sector, it is opportunities like these that will lay the foundation to reach that goal. I wish you great success during the Summit and look forward to learning its outcomes. Thank you very much.