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‘Indo-US bilateral relation better today than it ever has been’: David J Ranz

🔴 In an email interview with Avinash Nair and Leena Misra, he spoke on how the “tariff war” has impacted the relation between two countries and the key take aways from Vibrant Gujarat Summit.

Written by Avinash Nair , Leena Misra | Ahmedabad |
Updated: January 17, 2022 12:31:28 pm
US Consul General David J Ranz (Source: in.usembassy.gov/mumbai)

US Consul General David J Ranz, from the consulate in Mumbai, had visited Gujarat in September last year just when the new government under chief minister Bhupendra Patel, took charge. In an email interview with AVINASH NAIR and LEENA MISRA, he spoke on how the “tariff war” has impacted the relation between two countries and the key take aways from Vibrant Gujarat Summit.

How has the ongoing “tariff war” between India and the United States, and now the pandemic, impacted Indo-U.S.relations?

The US-India bilateral relationship is better today than it ever has been. In fact, although the final numbers are not yet in, it appears that bilateral trade in 2021 broke our previous record, and this despite the challenges of the global pandemic.

On tariffs, we believe that lower tariffs enable free, fair, and reciprocal trade. Last year, we had a very productive Trade Policy Forum Ministerial. As a result, we are close to finalizing market access for Indian mangoes and pomegranates in the United States, and access for U.S. alfalfa and pork in India. This demonstrates real progress, and willingness from both countries to facilitate greater bilateral trade.

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The third largest chunk of FDI comes into India from the United States. How many American companies operate out of Gujarat and in what sectors? How many jobs have they generated?

We do not track the number of individual US companies in Gujarat, but I can tell you there are a significant number of US companies operating in the state, and hundreds of companies in the state that benefit from US investment. These companies employ thousands of Indians and bring cutting edge technological and management skills to India.

U.S. companies continue to be widely considered the largest source of foreign direct investment into India. Cumulative US direct investment in India reached about $46 billion in 2019; however, the actual figure for all sources of US investment is much higher.

Do you see Tesla coming into India?

You would have to ask Tesla about their plans. More broadly, India is competing for Foreign Direct Investment with countries around the world, and US and other foreign investors prefer countries that provide regulatory stability and transparency; timely and transparent dispute regulation mechanisms; and protection for intellectual property rights.

Gujarat saw auto majors like General Motors and now Ford, close down their manufacturing plants, what were the reasons behind these decisions?

Each company makes decisions based on many factors. You will have to ask those companies about their business decisions.

How do you view the Government of India’s action under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) given that the US is among the top donor countries?

The United States believes a free and open civil society and respect for the rule of law are among the cornerstones of every democracy. We believe civil society is carrying out important work in India that improves the lives and well-being of all.

GIFT City and Dholera Special Investment Region(SIR) have been marketed as investment destinations by the Gujarat government for over a decade. How do you look at these projects as an investor?

Without delving into specific projects or companies, history shows that open economies produce the most dynamic economic growth, create the most jobs, and give consumers the best goods at the lowest prices. An open economy is something that is very much in India’s interest.

India aspires to become a global trading and investment hub for manufacturing and for global exports. But India can only realize its full potential if it fully embraces the global supply chain and creates a regulatory environment that offers a level playing field for all businesses. This includes a clear, consistent, and stable regulatory environment; lowering tariffs to enable free, fair, and reciprocal trade; accepting international production standards; allowing for the free flow of data across borders; easing the process of securing business licenses; providing greater protection for intellectual property; and encouraging e-commerce to flourish.

What have been US’s key takeaways from the Vibrant Gujarat summits?

In past Vibrant Gujarat Summits, we have seen an appetite on the part of the state government for cutting red tape and decreasing the burden of regulation, as well as an active interest in India playing a key role in the global supply chain. We hope to see these trends continue, as we know US companies are interested in investing and working in Gujarat. We look forward to continuing to do our part and advocate on their behalf as they search for new opportunities.

After the grand reception to the then US President Donald Trump in Gujarat in 2020, one would have expected a larger role of the US in the Vibrant Gujarat summit. However, the US did not figure in the list of partner countries. Why?

The level of US investment in Gujarat is quite significant, as is the number of US firms already doing business in the state. The United States remains India’s largest trading partner, and U.S. companies continue to be India’s biggest source of foreign direct investment.

Our relationship with India is rooted in the shared values of the world’s biggest and oldest democracies. We are a steadfast partner and friend to India and continue to be so. This is reflected in our engagement on national-level priorities, which was demonstrated in 2021 by the frequent visits by US and Indian officials at the highest levels, including the meeting of President Biden with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi in Washington, D.C.

Are the rising Covid 19 and Omicron cases in India aconcern? What precautions have been advised for delegates flying into Gujarat?

The US was still considering the nature of its delegation in light of the Covid-19 situation when the organizers decided to postpone the (Vibrant Gujarat) summit. We would encourage anyone coming to India from the United States to closely monitor and follow guidance from the U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adhere to the Government of India’s health recommendations and remainin compliance with all laws and regulations.

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