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Remarks at Luncheon Sponsored by Confederation of Indian Industry and U.S.-India Investors Forum in Mumbai, India

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AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Thursday, March 29, 2012
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Commerce Secretary John Bryson
Remarks at Luncheon Sponsored by Confederation of Indian Industry and U.S.-India Investors Forum in Mumbai, India

Good afternoon. Thank you, President Sachdev. I’m pleased to see the formation of the U.S.-India Investors Forum. Congratulations to all of the founding board members.

And thank you again to our host, CII. You have been excellent hosts in Delhi, Jaipur and now here in Mumbai.

Briefly, I also want to recognize the three other U.S. federal agencies traveling with us: the Trade and Development Agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Export-Import Bank.

The Trade and Development Agency, represented by Henry Steingass and Mark Dunn. OPIC, represented by Peter Ballinger. And Larry Walthers, the Director of the Export-Import Bank. Can each of you raise your hands?

All of these agencies do critically important financing, spurring growth and opportunity in both of our counties.

Today marks the fifth day of my first trade mission as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. 16 excellent U.S. businesses came with me on this infrastructure-focused trip.

They specialize in project management, engineering services, transportation, and energy. We have now highlighted in many meetings how their deep experience with America’s infrastructure can be used to help meet India’s pressing needs in this area.

As President Obama said two years ago, the U.S.-India relationship is one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century. I agree.

As you all know well, back in the early '90s, India and outstanding leaders like then-Finance Minister Singh decided that openness and a market-driven economy were essential to the economic future of the world’s largest democracy.

As a result, 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.

With this growth, millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. Also, India’s top companies–like Tata–are now known worldwide.

This growth has resulted in increased 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–receiving $36 billion in goods from India in 2011.

Today, we have a unique opportunity to build on our trade partnership due to India’s aggressive plan to invest $1 trillion over the next five years in infrastructure.

This plan is ambitious and admirable. This includes as many as 600 major projects, with a strong emphasis on public-private partnerships.

And what I want most to emphasize here is what we see as the importance of using this moment as an opportunity to deepen and broaden the U.S.-India partnership. Our countries and our businesses should do more work together in cities like Jaipur–which the delegation visited yesterday. In 20 years, 68 cities in India could have populations over one million.

Today, American businesses want to serve as partners in building India’s infrastructure and supporting inclusive growth. U.S. businesses want to help pave the roads, lay the rails, build the airports, and bring the energy–critical efforts that will drive prosperity and job creation in both our countries.

If American businesses are able to compete and contribute more, we can help ensure that strong and balanced trade growth remains a pillar of the U.S.-India relationship in years to come.

What I particularly want to underscore in these remarks today is that strong and balanced growth must also characterize our investment relationship–another pillar of our economic relationship.

Already, 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. U.S. investment has grown to 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. We see more each day.

For example, just last September, Tata Chemicals announced a joint venture with the New Jersey-based company that makes America’s famous Arm & Hammer products.  Together, they are going to make sodium-based chemicals for the purposes of pollution control. Specifically, they are going to invest $60 million in a new manufacturing facility.

Another example, also from last September: HCL Technologies opened a new software engineering hub in the state of Washington. This will add 400 jobs to HCL’s operations in the U.S. I should note that Governor Christine Gregoire was on-hand to offer support with state-level funds to help HCL with workforce training–a great example of public-private collaboration.

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

Today, I want to encourage more India-based companies and investors to Select the USA. In fact, that is, the name of our new worldwide initiative is SelectUSA–an initative strong supported by President Obama–the first, coordinated effort by the U.S. government to attract new business investments to America.

India is one of the first 10 markets for SelectUSA.  Our message is absolutely clear: We welcome your investments.  

As you already know, America has world-class universities, cutting-edge R&D, deep supply chains, powerful IP protections, a strong patent system that is getting better each day, and a talented and productive workforce–a workforce which includes many Indian-Americans who have driven global innovation and entrepreneurship.

Through SelectUSA, our commercial service officers here in India are going to do more to give you the tools you need: We will serve as an information clearinghouse for CEOs and investors. We will help you when you are facing confusion, delays, or obstacles. We will even help you after you have already invested in the U.S.–because we want you to do it again.

In addition, we will provide more opportunities for you to make personal connections with local and state leaders in the U.S.–as in the HCL example in Washington State.

On that note, I want to personally invite you to the First Annual SelectUSA Investment Summit this fall in Washington, D.C. Companies from around the world will come and meet with officials at all levels of government as well as economic development leaders.

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

And as we look to the future of our investment relationship, we know we must do even more.

We know, for example, that America’s corporate tax code is overly complex and needs to be reformed. America has one of the highest statutory corporate tax rates, which hasn’t changed meaningfully since the 1980s.

President Obama has asked Congress to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent–and to close the loopholes that lobbyists have added over the years.

I believe that this is something that both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress can and should agree on–and, with the president, I will continue to push for it to be adopted this year.

And while each of our countries can take actions like that on our own, I’m more excited about the work that we can do together.

For example, I announced on Monday that we have renewed our bilateral Commercial Dialogue for two additional years. This involves the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration.

The Dialogue brings together both of our public and private sectors, to make progress and make constructive decisions on the top issues of doing business in each other’s markets.  

In that forum, for example, 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

And we can build on that Dialogue. This administration supports moving forward with a Bilateral Investment Treaty.

Such a treaty would send an important signal to potential U.S. investors. It would provide strong investor protections to help India attract investment, particularly for much-needed infrastructure projects.  

And it’s a two-way street. A strong treaty would also help protect Indian investors and companies who are increasing their investments in the U.S.–including those here today.

Overall, this treaty could support market-based policies that provide greater stability and predictability for business leaders in both countries.

In short, it is clear, that investors and CEOs in both of our countries are at a critical moment in the U.S.-India relationship.

In the interactions this week between U.S. and Indian business executives, I have seen first-hand that we share the same values, the same concerns and the same desire to build growth and prosperity for our people.

While I know that you have many challenges, I believe that India–the world’s largest democracy–can work to build one of the world’s strongest business climates.  

And my hope is that all of us can join together to send one very clear message. 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.

In all of our efforts, we must continue to come to the table and exchange ideas on how we can broaden and deepen our relationship. As a simple sign of your commitment to that approach, I hope you join the U.S.-India Investors Forum if you haven’t already.  

Together, we can 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.