Thursday, June 14, 2012

Commerce's Blank at U.S.-India Business Council

U.S. Department of Commerce
Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank
Remarks to U.S. India Business Council - CII Economic Summit
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
(As prepared for delivery)
Thank you. It is wonderful to be here with the U.S.-India Business Council.

I want to recognize the Council's President, Ron Somers. The Council has helped foster a vibrant relationship between our countries over its 37 years. Thank you for your leadership and work, Ron.

I also want to recognize CII President Adi Godrej. Thank you for helping to host the Secretary's recent successful trade mission in New Delhi, Jaipur, and Mumbai.

Of course, Secretary Bryson regrets that he could not be here today and sends his greetings. As you may have heard, he is taking a medical leave of absence to focus on his health.

And, of course, I want to recognize the Deputy Chairman of India's Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia. Thank you for coming today and being part of this event. It's a pleasure to see everyone here from both business and government. You're poised for an important and engaging week, which includes the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue.

Everyone knows India's dramatic story over the past 20 years. It started when then-Finance Minister Singh led the effort to better open up India's economy to market forces and private business.

India's entrepreneurial spirit was unleashed. Millions have been lifted out of poverty. And India's middle class grows bigger each day.

Even though recent GDP growth in India has slowed (as it has in many other places around the world), if India continues on a path toward openness, liberalization, and integration into the global economy, the next 20 years look just as promising.

Within the next 20 years, it's estimated that India will become the most populous country in the world. Nearly 70 cities throughout India could grow to have populations of over one million. And total yearly income of urban households in India could reach four trillion U.S. dollars.

Now more than ever, it's clear that the U.S.-India relationship is-and must continue to be-one of the defining partnerships of this century. Today, I understand that your discussions will revolve around national security, energy, food security, and, of course, our economic relationship.

I'd just like to touch on a few ways we can work together to strengthen our economic relationship.

First, trade. Our bilateral trade relationship has seen continued growth in recent years.

From 2009 to 2011, U.S. goods exported to India grew over 30 percent to a record $21.6 billion.

Meanwhile, the U.S. imported $36 billion in goods from India in 2011-also a record. We must continue on the path toward strong, balanced trade growth.

That's why Secretary Bryson recently led a trade mission to India. The businesses on the trip specialized in management, engineering services, transportation, energy, and more. These businesses are offering up their strong experience in building the U.S. infrastructure as India looks to invest $1 trillion in its own infrastructure over the next five years.

Cities like Jaipur - a key stop on the trade mission - are particularly important. Jaipur's economic strength has historically been in areas such as tourism, but today it's attracting broader investments through projects like the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and from top Indian companies such as Mahindra. I understand that Anand Mahindra himself will be getting an award and speaking later today.

So we look forward to bilateral trade growth that leads to more jobs and greater overall prosperity in both countries. At the same time, our bilateral investment relationship must also be strong and balanced.

Currently, U.S. investment in India is over $27 billion while India's investment here is substantially less. The good news is, we are hearing more stories of Indian investment in the U.S.

I had the pleasure of visiting a steel plant in Ohio last August that is owned by Tata's parent company. And, last September, Tata Chemicals announced a joint venture with the U.S. company that makes Arm & Hammer products. Together, they're going to invest $60 million in a new U.S. manufacturing facility to make chemicals for pollution control. We need more stories like that.

We want to build on the fact that over 30,000 Americans go to work each day at U.S. subsidiaries of Indian firms. So, we need to move forward with efforts such as a Bilateral Investment Treaty, which would provide greater stability for investors in both countries.

Also, at the Commerce Department, we have launched SelectUSA. This is the first coordinated effort by our government to attract business investments to America. Already, our commercial service officers and embassies in India are helping businesses there as they explore building facilities and hiring workers in the U.S.

And we look forward to the first SelectUSA Investment Summit next year here in Washington.

At that Summit, we hope to make even more matches between Indian investors and economic development organizations throughout the U.S. I hope you will join us.

Truly, there are broad opportunities to strengthen our trade and investment relationship, but challenges remain.

U.S. businesses continue to express a number of concerns about trade and investments in India. Tariffs remain too high on some U.S. products. Investment caps still exist in key services sectors. Intellectual property protection concerns remain. And we are troubled by the policy trend toward mandated local content in areas like manufacturing, IT, and electronics.

That said, it is promising to see India taking steps such as the use of integrity pacts by contractors, and ratifying the U.N. Convention Against Corruption, among other things. I believe-more than ever-that we can indeed overcome challenges if we embrace a shared commitment to transparency, accountability, and openness.

These ideals are essential for strong, innovation-driven ecosystems, which is what both of our countries are striving to create and foster in the 21st century.

Finally, I just want to emphasize that our path forward in the U.S.-India partnership is not,in fact, driven by numbers and statistics. It is driven by person-to-person relationships and friendships.

At the highest levels, these relationships involve the leaders in our Commercial Dialogue, which was just renewed.
This Dialogue will continue bringing together public and private sector leaders in both countries.

And I'm pleased to hear that it will be focused on key areas such as smart grids, intelligent transportation systems, and sustainable manufacturing - all critical to India's continued growth.

But person-to-person India-U.S. relationships are seen in other ways than just through our shared investments. For example, you may know that the Commerce Department recently released the results of its 2010 Census.

From 2000 to 2010, the number of Indian-Americans in the U.S. increased dramatically - by nearly 70 percent - to nearly 3 million people. Also, in 2011, the U.S. welcomed a record of over 660,000 visitors from India.

Working with the State Department, we hope to welcome even more in the months and years ahead, for both business and pleasure.

Clearly, both of our nations can grow richer and more vibrant as we continue to exchange products and services, as well as ideas and cultures.

So, in closing, let's continue to build on each others' strengths. Let's work together to help our entrepreneurs and businesses bring new ideas and innovations into the global marketplace.

And, yes, let's continue to foster the ideals of freedom and democracy throughout the world. If we can achieve those goals, I'm confident that we will continue to lead together in the 21st century, and that our people, our cultures, and our economies will continue to thrive.

Thank you.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)

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