Thank you, Ambassador Juster, for your kind introduction and for being such a gracious host in my absence. I’m sorry I cannot be with all of you in attendance.
As you might have heard, there was a powerful winter storm on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States yesterday, and, along with technical problems, our flight to New Delhi was cancelled hours after we were seated on board. So, thank you Ambassador Juster for leading the discussions on my behalf.
And thank you, Mr. Taiclet and Mr. Chandrasekaran for your leadership of the CEO Forum. We truly value the recommendations you have developed to improve commerce between our two nations.
As some of you might know, the U.S. Government has only two formal CEO Forums: this one with India; and another with Brazil. Our dedication to the CEO Forum is an indication of the value the U.S. Government places on advancing commerce with India.
Our goal is for more American companies to sell their goods and services to India, which, by purchasing power parity, is the third largest GDP in the world. American companies offer the most innovative solutions to the world’s most vexing problems. And, I am happy to say, many of them are in attendance with you today.
American merchandise exports to India are growing. They increased by $4 billion in 2017 to almost $26 billion; and they had already reached $30 billion as of November 2018. But the United States continues to run chronic trade deficits with India. The goods deficit has averaged over $20 billion per year for the past five years.
New barriers to American business are still being proposed in some of the most important and promising areas of e-commerce, digital technologies and services, and data privacy. We hope that all of you involved in the CEO Forum can address these issues with the goal of expanding our bilateral trade and investment ties.
We look to the Government of India to work with us to achieve reciprocity in trade, and to develop an equitable and level playing field for all businesses. I look forward to the results of your discussion and ideas on how best to implement your recommendations. Thank you, again, for your participation in the CEO Forum.