Wednesday, May 18, 2011

U.S.-India Ties Are Strong and Growing, Diplomat Says

By Jeff Baron
Staff Writer
Washington - A top U.S. diplomat says the United States and India are becoming closer and closer as partners in technology, development, security and trade.
"India and the U.S. have the potential to be each other's largest trade and investment partners, demonstrating significant, balanced benefits for both economies and peoples," said Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake, who oversees South and Central Asian affairs.
Blake told a think-tank audience May 13 that, with bipartisan support in both countries, the world's two largest democracies have made "significant and uninterrupted progress over the last decade" on their common concerns. The two are also creating the architecture for further progress, he said.
Blake, a former deputy chief of the U.S. mission in New Delhi, offered a lengthy catalogue of cooperation between the two countries. He said that India's fast-growing economy requires fast-growing and diversified power sources. The two countries "are working together across a full portfolio of energy options, especially clean solutions," he said.
"The U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy, known as PACE, will improve energy access and promote low-carbon growth through the research and deployment of clean energy technologies," he said. In addition, a Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center is in the works with as much as $100 million in public and private-sector funds.
Other areas in which cooperation has taken off include space. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is working with the Indian Ministry of Earth and Sciences to use satellite imagery in forecasting monsoons and helping Indians plan their crops.
Blake also noted the security ties that have grown between the United States and India, which he said play a vital and growing role in upholding the rule of law internationally. He said the two countries' militaries should work together more at the planning level, and he especially urged India to take a greater security role in East Asia. He also lamented India's decision not to buy its next generation of fighter aircraft from U.S. companies.
Blake praised India's efforts at building peace, with aid to Afghanistan and increased dialogue with longtime rival Pakistan.
"India's economic rise presents an enormous opportunity for Pakistan, and the normalization of economic ties could provide immense benefits to millions of entrepreneurs, farmers and businesspeople in both countries," he said. "More critically, a bilateral breakthrough could provide a catalyst for wider regional economic integration, a transformative goal we all wish realized."
Blake also highlighted growing people-to-people exchanges between India and the United States, including the number of work visas issued for Indians. He said trade and investment between the two countries are growing but should be greater still. That increase can happen if the two countries work out a bilateral investment treaty, he said.
Blake urged India to make life easier for foreign companies interested in the Indian market. He said India ranks 134 out of 183 on the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index.
"As India's economic reform proceeds - however slowly - in the future, I have no doubt it will expand the space for greater U.S. trade and investment," he said.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)

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