Guest blog by Michael Camuñez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance.
President Obama has observed that “The relationship between the United States and India-- bound by our shared interests and values -- will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.”
This week, my first trip to India has focused on deepening the economic and trade dimensions of our bilateral partnership. I began in Mumbai, passed through Bangalore, and ended in Delhi.
The stunning growth of the Indian economy is well known. India has embraced global trade and competition, cutting its top applied tariff rates on industrial goods from more than 100% before liberalization to about 10-12% currently. Today, annual growth rates in excess of eight percent percent have become commonplace.
As part of this story, the US-India partnership has been hard at work, with great success. The United States is the largest source of foreign investment in India. In 2009, total U.S. FDI in India was $18.6 billion, up 12 percent from 2008.
American corporations who’ve set up shop in India are partnering with leading local companies and professionals to do great things.
In Bangalore, I visited GE’s John Welch Technology Center—one of just five GE R&D campuses, and the first to be located outside of the United States. The center represents a $200 million investment by GE, employing more than 4,000 Indian scientists and engineers. I was able to witness the incredible innovation that is being undertaken to meet the unique needs of the Indian market.
For example, medical research tells us that 40% of cardiac disease will come from the Indian subcontinent during the next few years. Early diagnosis that comes from regular screening is a key to preventing heart disease and death. Yet only about a third of India’s people receive such screenings – even lower in rural communities. One basic reason concerns the lack of access to the medical equipment—echocardiograms (those devices that produce EKGs)—and the electricity that powers these devices.
A team of Indian and American engineers from GE’s health care division invented the “Mac-I” a new portable, battery-operated device that fits the unique needs of Indian patients, especially in poor rural communities. You don’t even need a trained cardiologist to administer the EKG or interpret the results. The screening test costs just nine rupees (or about 20 cents) per scan. The entire device costs just $500. The Mac-i is designed and manufactured in India, and is now being exported to developing countries around the world.
What’s happening at GE, and at countless other companies in India, is that American and Indian scientists are working together to develop innovative products that meet the needs of the Indian population as well as global consumers.
Like GE, other U.S. companies will have opportunities to collaborate in many other sectors in India – critical to India’s desire to promote inclusive growth and to lift additional people out of poverty – as long as the Indian market remains open.
I am convinced that continued market-opening policies will be the key to India’s future success, and to the continued deepening of our nations’ economic engagement and partnership together.