The New Indian Express: US asks India to open market, address trade imbalance

The US on Tuesday asked India to open its market for American firms and address the rising trade imbalance between the two countries while taking steps to protect intellectual property rights.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, addressing an event organised by the US India Business Council (USIBC), said India has been a greater beneficiary of foreign direct investment in the Indo-US bilateral trade relationship.

“Annual bilateral trade between the US and India has doubled over the last decade and was USD 114 billion in 2016. Unfortunately, over the same period trade deficit has tripled, now at USD 27 billion,” Ross said.

“We would naturally want to see growing trade and balanced trade,” he said at the event held to launch ‘Road to Global Entrepreneurship Summit’ in Hyderabad in November.

Last year, India’s investment in the US reached USD 12.1 billion while US investment into India was USD 32.9 billion, Ross said, adding that there is much to do for the India-US trade relationship to reach its full potential.

Ross said only 1.5 per cent of US exports are to India and only 6.3 per cent of Indian exports went to America. “This indicates that potential for growth is much more,” he said.

Ross, in his address, also referred to the recent Spice Jet order for 120 planes from Boeing as a promising sign.

Praising some of the recent economic reforms in India, the Commerce Secretary said the GST and the bankruptcy codes were quite encouraging.

At the same time, market access for innovative products in India is essential, he said.

“Greater access is a necessary step that would help bolster entrepreneurship in critical subjects such as health care,” Ross said. “I hope that the Indian government would continue to champion bold reforms in all sectors,” Ross said.

This would not only facilitate US-India trade, but would also facilitate a strong eco system for the entrepreneurs, he said.

Referring to the India-US Summit in June, he said US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will co-host this year’s Global Entrepreneur Summit (GES) in Hyderabad. He reiterated the importance of close relations between the two growing economies.

Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna said India and the US were working to address the trade imbalance issue. He referred to the start of the recent export of US oil to India and of gas beginning next year.

Sarna also spoke about the great potential between India and the US in sectors like energy and civil aviation. He said India and the US have decided to move to ‘2+2’ format of talks between the two countries involving the Secretaries of Defence and State Departments from the US side and Defence and External Affairs Ministers from India.

Defence Secretary James Mattis is scheduled to visit India later this month.

Observing that the US is proud to be India’s top trading partner, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells said the vast complementarity of US-India relationship is reflected in areas like defence, energy, health, entrepreneurship and innovation.