By MacKenzie C. Babb
IIP Staff Writer
Senior U.S. government officials and private-sector leaders have successfully wrapped up a weeklong trade mission to India focused on building partnerships to increase two-way trade and investment and boost the economies of both countries, according to Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez.
“As the U.S.-India bilateral relationship continues to grow, it is my hope that our two countries will reap the rewards of increased trade and investment in terms of job creation and an improved standard of living,” Sánchez said upon concluding the trade mission in Mumbai February 24.
The undersecretary led the U.S. delegation on the trip, which focused on the expansion of Indian ports and maritime infrastructure. He was joined by representatives from 12 U.S. organizations seeking stronger business ties with India, including companies specializing in dredging, security, scanning technology, infrastructure, transportation and logistics.
During the trip, Sánchez took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service’s new Trade Information Center in the new U.S. Consulate in Mumbai. He said the center will provide useful information to both American and Indian clients about foreign investment.
The undersecretary also attended an event hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, where he spoke about the need to further increase U.S.-India commercial cooperation.
He noted that in 2011, two-way trade between the countries grew to $58 billion and said the two countries expect the upward trend to continue in 2012. The undersecretary said India will play an important role in meeting President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2014.
Sánchez later witnessed the signing of an agreement between the U.S. Port of Baltimore in Maryland and the Mundra Port in Gujarat, a deal he called the “perfect example of the U.S. and India working together to meet India’s infrastructure needs while supporting American jobs.”
Maritime transport is important to India’s external trade and presents lucrative opportunities for U.S. companies offering products and services in the maritime transport sector. The Mundra Port, located on the northwest coast of India, is the country’s largest private port, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. In a February 22 statement, the department said the Port of Baltimore is among the most productive ports in the United States, handling around 30 million tons of cargo each year.
During the trip, Sánchez spoke to U.S. and Indian businesses and organizations about the Obama administration’s SelectUSA initiative. The initiative “encourages, facilitates and accelerates business investment in the United States,” according to the Commerce Department.
The department said the total stock of Indian direct investment in the United States grew more than 90 percent in 2010, reaching $7.1 billion. Sánchez encouraged Indian companies to continue working in the United States, saying, “America is an ideal place for businesses to invest.” The undersecretary said the advantages of investing in the United States include a vast domestic market, a transparent legal system and an innovative business atmosphere, and he asked Indian investors to “take a look at what we have to offer.”
Speaking to students in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, Sánchez also noted the importance of fostering educational exchanges between India and the United States, as Indian students “will play a big role in shaping the 21st century.”
The trade mission comes ahead of an infrastructure trade mission that Commerce Secretary John Bryson will be leading to Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai March 25–30.