(As prepared for delivery)
Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you, Prat, for that kind introduction and for the opportunity to speak today about the future of U.S.-India economic synergy. I am honored to join the many distinguished speakers here recognizing AmCham for its 25 years of service, representing more than 500 U.S. companies in India.
Over the last several months, I have had the opportunity to witness the breadth and depth of our fruitful partnership with AmCham.
The U.S.-India economic relationship has grown dramatically in recent years. And yet, there’s still tremendous potential. AmCham plays a significant role in realizing that potential.
U.S.-India Bilateral Relationship
AmCham’s 25th anniversary celebration is an excellent opportunity to reflect not only on what our two countries have accomplished, but also to look ahead to what the future holds.
Today, our bilateral economic and strategic engagement is flourishing, and there is renewed enthusiasm from U.S. industry to enter the Indian market.
Looking back over the past decade, we have made substantial progress in improving our trade ties. Two-way trade in goods and services between the United States and India reached more than $114 billion last year. This represents a three-fold increase from 2005. Foreign investment has also risen to unprecedented levels, with total FDI flows between the U.S. and India at $37 billion in 2016.
We are excited about the growing commitment from the Government of India to implement pro-business reforms that could boost two-way trade and investment even further. We hope reforms such as the Goods and Services Tax and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Code will reduce long-standing challenges to doing business in India.
As our economic ties grow, so does our bilateral policy engagement. We seek to elevate the many dialogues we currently have with the Government of India – from energy to commerce and defense. In particular, I am pleased that our strategic defense partnership is stronger than ever. In the past year, we officially classified India as a Major Defense Partner, concluded a defense logistics agreement, and expanded our defense and industrial ties through the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative. We have also increased cooperation on peacekeeping, disaster assistance, maritime security, and countering violent extremism.
India plays a central role in the economic and political emergence of Asia, and the United States proudly supports its rise as a global power and model of democratic principles.
In short, we are encouraged by the mounting optimism and interest on both sides to continue along this path of deeper economic and strategic engagement. We have a great global partner in India.
Realizing Full Potential
The sheer size and diversity of our two economies demand that we do even more to realize the full potential of our commercial partnership.
We have remarkable resources at our disposal – large economies, open and democratic societies, and common core values rooted in respect for equality, freedom, and human dignity. The promise of our relationship is constrained only by our imagination.
At the U.S. Embassy, we recognize the great opportunity ahead and are actively pursuing ways to enhance our trade and investment ties. I know that our colleagues at AmCham share this vision.
Let me share a few sectors that we believe offer particularly promising opportunities for growth and synergy.
With the ninth-largest civil aviation market in the world, we see great potential for more engagement in the development of India’s civil aviation sector. We want to work with AmCham and other partners to promote project opportunities in areas where U.S. companies are especially competitive, including airport development and planning, ICT, and air safety and security.
Defense is another promising area of cooperation. The United States is already among India’s top major defense suppliers, and we see new opportunities opening up as our countries deepen ties as Major Defense Partners.
We are also eager to expand commercial opportunities in education. Over the last decade, Indian students brought 31 billion dollars of economic activity to the United States. In addition to the commercial benefit of increased education exports, these vibrant people-to-people ties bring us closer together and strengthen our commitment to shared values.
In terms of energy, the Indian government’s commendable goal of expanding electricity access to all Indians by 2022 will require large-scale investment and deployment of new energy technologies. With U.S. companies at the forefront in development of smart, clean and efficient energy solutions, I know this will continue to be a high priority for engagement.
We also see market potential for environmental technologies. Based on decades of addressing environmental challenges in the United States, U.S. companies are well-positioned to be valuable partners in providing solutions ranging from air pollution monitoring to wastewater management.
Finally, the travel and tourism industry shows great promise. As we celebrate the 2017 U.S.-India Travel and Tourism Partnership Year, we will continue to explore ways to increase travel and tourism ties between our two countries. We are even using this year’s July 4th celebration to highlight the wonderful ties between music and tourism in the United States.
I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight our 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit, which will take place from June 18-20th in Washington D.C. We welcome new investors to reach out to us to learn more about the Summit, and we hope to have another robust delegation from India this year.
Importance of AmCham’s Work
We are grateful to AmCham for the integral role it plays in advancing shared prosperity and goodwill between the United States and India. Please allow me to note just some of the many AmCham endeavors for which we give thanks.
As a key point of contact for U.S. industry in India, AmCham plays a vital role in connecting U.S. companies with Indian partners and helping them integrate into the local business community.
AmCham is also essential in channeling the voice of industry on key policy issues and uniting U.S. and Indian companies on matters of common interest.
Additionally, AmCham is instrumental in highlighting all of the ways U.S. companies are making a difference in India. Recently, AmCham organized a highly successful photo exhibition in New Delhi to showcase its members’ corporate social responsibility activities. I am excited that AmCham will be providing a follow-up presentation today.
AmCham has also been a tremendously committed partner and advocate in our bilateral engagement with the Government of India through the U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue and the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum. We deeply value AmCham’s leadership in ensuring that U.S. companies continue to play a central role in advising and guiding each of these initiatives.
Looking ahead, we are positive about the transformative potential of our commercial relationship with India. As India seeks to promote domestic manufacturing, create jobs, and attract investment, it is important to recognize the crucial role that open trade plays in this process. For this reason, we must work with our counterparts in the Indian government to identify policies and practices that can further improve ease-of-doing-business in India and incentivize trade.
This includes addressing issues such as enhancing the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, rationalizing taxes and tariffs, and harmonizing standards with international best practices.
We will continue to engage in dialogue with the Government of India on each of these issues, and we welcome AmCham’s continued support in guiding the conversation.
In closing, let me say, thank you, AmCham, for your hard work over these 25 years. We celebrate your success and congratulate you on the tremendous progress that has been made, and we look forward to sustaining the momentum and setting even more ambitious goals for the next 25 years and beyond! Thank you.