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Remarks at Luncheon Sponsored by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (FICCI), New Delhi, India

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AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Monday, March 26, 2012
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Commerce Secretary John Bryson
Remarks at Luncheon Sponsored by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (FICCI), New Delhi, India

Thank you, Donald Lu.  It is great to be with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

This is my first trade mission as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. It is wonderful to be in India with all of you.

I have been here several times, but the most memorable visit was my first, which was 37 years ago on my honeymoon.

As you know, President Obama came here in 2010. He described the U.S.-India relationship as one of the “defining partnerships of the 21st century.” I agree.

I am particularly excited about the potential for U.S. businesses to foster new partnerships here. The 16 that came with me specialize in project management, engineering services, transportation and energy.  

Could all of you please stand?

These businesses have deep experience playing significant roles to support the complex U.S. infrastructure. They have found creative and innovative solutions to America’s challenges.

Today, they are ready to use that knowledge and to work with businesses like yours to help meet India’s pressing infrastructure needs.

I am also pleased to be joined by three other U.S. agencies: the Export-Import Bank, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

All of us in the Obama administration are focused on fostering a stronger economic relationship with India–and stronger overall ties between our people.

There are many examples of how we are already working together.

For example, India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences and the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administratio (NOAA), have worked together to improve how we forecast monsoons.

And, through our Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) we have partnered to share best practices on protecting intellectual property of our entrepreneurs and businesses.

The bonds between our governments and our people become stronger each day as we uncover even more avenues for cooperation.   

Our mutual progress is built on India’s increased openness over the past two decades. This started back in the early ‘90s when then-Finance Minister Singh led the effort to open up India’s economy.

India’s entrepreneurial spirit was then unleashed for the world to see.  And, for the past 10 years, it’s no coincidence that India’s economy has grown quickly–at an annual rate of around 8 percent.

Millions of people have been lifted out of poverty and India’s top companies are now known worldwide.

This growth has resulted in demand for American-made products and services. U.S. exports to India have grown from less than $4 billion in 2001 to over $21 billion last year.

And America has reciprocated. The U.S.–an exceptionally open market–imported $36 billion in goods from India in 2011.

While we must remain vigilant to ensure strong and balanced trade growth, it is clear that we are on a path that is mutually beneficial for each of our economies.

I’m here today because we can do more. We can find areas where it makes sense for the U.S. and India to collaborate more closely.

There is perhaps no greater opportunity to do so than in building India’s infrastructure.

India’s trillion-dollar commitment to infrastructure over the next five years is both ambitious and admirable. As I understand it, this includes as many as 600 major projects, with a strong emphasis on public-private partnership.

I would like to offer four concrete reasons why it makes sense for the U.S. and India to work together in this area:

Reason number 1 is roads: The U.S. has the largest road system in the world, and India plans to dramatically expand its own road network. American companies have built, maintained, and upgraded America’s highway system for more than 50 years–and those companies can help. For example, one of the companies on this mission–Mead West Vaco–offers a special asphalt that has a longer life than others.

Reason number 2 is rail: Indian Railways is one of the largest railroad networks in the world. It’s India’s largest employer. It has embarked on a massive expansion and modernization plan.  America has a long history of driving invention and innovation in rail.

Reason number 3 is aviation:  The fourth-largest civil aviation network in the world is here in India. Recently, we reached an agreement for U.S. participation in the development of three regional airports. In addition, one of the companies on this mission–CH2M Hill–is already providing services for the Mumbai airport upgrade.

Reason number 4 is energy: India is the fastest growing electricity market in the world. We are already collaborating through the U.S.-India Energy Cooperation Program.  American businesses stand ready to help improve energy transmission and distribution, and to help develop renewable energy. And I’m very excited about the two new grants from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency that tackle those challenges.

In summary, U.S. companies want to work with companies like yours to help pave the roads, lay the rails, build the airports, and bring energy to people throughout India.  By doing so, we can provide opportunities and improve the quality of life for millions of people.

One final note before I move on. Our commitment will not stop with the four major metros.

I am particularly pleased to be the first-ever U.S. Commerce Secretary to visit Jaipur, which will show our strong commitment to fostering partnerships–and inclusive growth–in all parts of India.  

A second area where I see great potential to grow our partnership is investment. The bilateral investment relationship between the U.S. and India is stronger than ever.

Many American companies have invested in India over the past five years. Our direct investment is now over $27 billion across a wide range of sectors, including services, manufacturing, information technology and more.

At the same time, India is a fast-growing source of direct investment into the United States. You employ tens of thousands of American workers in professional, technical, and scientific and other services.

For example, in September, Tata announced a joint venture with a New Jersey-based company to do manufacturing in Wyoming.  They will make products that help with pollution control.

We need more stories like that, because while India’s direct investment is growing quickly, it remains only about $3 billion, or $7 billion when you include investments made through other countries.

My hope is that more India-based companies Select the USA. In fact, the name of our new worldwide initiative is SelectUSA.

America has world-class universities, cutting-edge R&D, deep supply chains, a strong patent system, and a talented workforce–a workforce which includes many Indian-Americans who drive global innovation and entrepreneurship.

Through SelectUSA, our commercial service officers are doing more to connect Indian businesses with the tools they need to invest in America.

We will serve as an information clearinghouse for Indian CEOs and investors. We will help you navigate America’s rules and procedures. And we will tell how the U.S. is a great place to put your next facility.

And I want to personally invite all of you to the First Annual SelectUSA Investment Summit this fall in Washington. Companies from around the world will come and meet with America’s federal, state and local officials.  

They want to talk with you about how America is a great place to invest, to hire, and to help build the future of your business.

With trade and investment, it is clear that we have great opportunities.  But I would be remiss not to mention that barriers still exist to building our economic relationship.

For example, there are many tariffs on American products that are still too high. Capital goods such as power-generating equipment face a basic duty of 7.5% and an effective rate of 22 percent when taxes are added.  Some medical products also have a 7.5 percent rate.  Grapes, citrus, and other fruits face a 30 percent duty.

Also, we are concerned about measures that interfere with U.S. sourcing decisions in areas like IT, electronics and solar energy.  This makes it harder to invest in India.

If India is not able to readily access U.S. products or attract strategic investments from U.S. businesses, our progress together could slow down. In the long-term, this could cause significant harm.

In addition, we must work to foster greater fairness and a more level playing field for all of our businesses.

I encourage India to build on its efforts to support more accountability, transparency, and integrity in its commercial actions.  And I applaud the use of tools such as integrity pacts among contractors, e-procurement, and your ratification of the U.N. Convention Against Corruption.

I also encourage India to allow for more international competition by joining the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Government Procurement. This agreement has important provisions that support greater openness.

In sum, I believe strongly that India–the world’s largest democracy–can also have one of the world’s strongest business climates.  

And my hope is that business and government leaders in both our countries can join together to send one very clear message. And that is this: Our two democratic countries are serious global business leaders in the 21st century, and we are jointly committed to the principles of fairness, openness, transparency, and a level playing field.

On that note, I am very pleased to close with an important piece of news.

Through hard work over the past few months by the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry as well as the Commerce Department’s ITA, the U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue has been renewed for 2 additional years.

As you know, this dialogue brings together both of our public and private sectors. They discuss the top issues of doing business in each other’s markets.

I’m pleased to say that we will now seek to expand into new areas of engagement on smart grids, intelligent transportation systems, and sustainable manufacturing.

This is a key component of our commercial relationship – and a great example of how we must move forward.  

In all of our efforts, we must continue to come to the table to exchange ideas on how we can broaden and deepen our relationship.

This will ensure that we find, illuminate, and maximize win-win situations that benefit both the U.S. and India.  If we are successful, our futures will indeed be bright, our people will indeed be prosperous, and the global economy, indeed, will be much stronger.

Thank you.