Saturday, June 9, 2012

U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue Seeks to Build on Achievements

Washington - The third U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue opens June 13 in Washington, and as India and the United States enhance cooperation in the public, private and scientific sectors, the international community is poised to benefit from their advances in areas such as energy security, global prosperity, women's empowerment and health, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake says.

Speaking in Washington June 7 at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Blake said the U.S.-India partnership "is much more than a quest for 'the next big thing.' ... The United States and India have proven year after year that our annual dialogue has produced a widening record of cooperation and dividends."

With both countries having prestigious higher education institutions, market economies, venture capital, thriving private sectors and the rule of law, the United States and India have built environments conducive to innovation, he said. Through government grants and deepening joint research between Indian and American scientists, businesses and entrepreneurs are "developing tomorrow's technology-based solutions" for challenges in areas such as development, health and food preservation, Blake said.

As an example, Blake cited U.S.-based Promethean Power Systems and Indian company Icelings, which jointly developed a technology to create a low-cost but rugged cooling system for fruits, vegetables and seafood to address the fact that up to 40 percent of India's produce is lost to spoilage each year because of inadequate cold-chain storage systems.

The project "will help farmers to get a better price for their products by providing them with a more cost-effective, reliable way to get their produce to market," he said.

The United States and India also launched the Millennium Alliance in December 2011 as a public-private partnership aimed at spurring development.

The program identifies and develops new technologies and innovations "targeted at the bottom of the development pyramid," Blake said. It does so by having social entrepreneurs compete for funds to develop innovative technologies to address development needs, and by using the alliance to "scale these inventions to markets both in India and around the world to the benefit of the poor everywhere."

"In these and so many others ways, transformative technology and transformative diplomacy are helping to respond to global challenges and shape a more positive global future," Blake said.

In the June 13 Strategic Dialogue, U.S. and Indian officials will discuss more than 20 distinct policy areas, he said, with the aim of improving the lives of all their citizens.

The talks will "push the envelope in already thriving areas of cooperation, like our exceptional [science and technology] partnerships and defense trade" and will "set ambitious benchmarks for our trade and economic relationship, including progress on our Bilateral Investment Treaty negotiations," he said.

Blake said officials will be asking "What are we missing?" and "How can we do more now?"

Bilateral trade in goods and services between the two countries has increased fivefold over the past 10 years, from $18 billion in 2001 to nearly $90 billion in 2011, and it is on track to reach $100 billion in 2012, but Blake said there is room for governments to encourage even more progress.

"Governments in market economies do not create or run businesses, but we can help create the environment that allows entrepreneurs to take smart risks that catalyze new business - whether by strengthening investor protections, providing export financing or supporting investments in infrastructure and high technology," he said.

Blake said the United States is "very supportive" of India's Look East Strategy, through which it is working to integrate its economy and improve trade with neighbors such as Bangladesh and Burma and assuming a larger role in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Both India and the United States recognize the international significance of the waterways that connect the Indian Ocean through to the Pacific, the necessity of defending freedom of navigation and the importance of cooperating on transnational issues that threaten the free flow of commerce, such as piracy, illegal trafficking and terrorism," he said.

He added that both countries agree that "a zero-sum relationship" with Asia's largest economy, China, "will have negative results and will only dampen the opportunity for a stronger, more prosperous Asia." Both countries, he added, seek a new trilateral dialogue with China "to increase our understanding and cooperation in areas of mutual interest."

Blake concluded his remarks by saying India and the United States, as two of the world's leading democracies, market economies and net providers of security, are "working increasingly closely together" and promoting greater economic integration among countries in South and Central Asia and in the Asia-Pacific.

"We are tapping the amazing talents of our people to generate innovation across a wide range of disciplines that are generating new jobs for our people and helping to address many of the globe's big challenges," he said. "As countries willing to take responsibility for mobilizing responses to the world's challenges, the U.S. and India are likely together to influence the course of this new century before us."

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)

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