Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to India later this month, US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday expressed keenness to expand bilateral commercial ties, saying it is the right time to tap the “incredible possibilities” between India and the US.
Noting that annual trade in goods and services between India and the US has grown five-fold since 2005, Kerry said efforts must be made to increase the trade by an equal amount over the next few years.
Bilateral trade between the two countries stands at $100 billion and the US is keen to take it up to $500 billion.
“The moment has never been more right to tap the incredible possibilities between our two shared countries. We can do more together and we must do more together and we must do it faster,” Kerry said at the seventh Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit
“I was very taken during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ — participation of all for development of all. That sounds like a pretty good slogan for all of us to adopt, and if we adopt it we can get the job done,” said Kerry. “We will turn Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative into a win-win opportunity for the planet as a whole,” he said.
Kerry said he would work on expanding commercial ties between the two nations during his ongoing trip — he is scheduled to meet Modi in New Delhi on Monday to discuss bilateral issues.
His comments come just a few weeks ahead of Obama’s visit to New Delhi, where he will be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade.
Stressing that the US President is very excited about his upcoming India visit, Kerry said, “He is the first US President to be honoured as chief guest on Republic Day. He will be the first sitting US President to visit India twice. This shows the relationship between India and the US.”
Later in the day, Modi and Kerry held a bilateral meeting with discussions focused on Obama’s visit. “Both sides agreed that the visit would add momentum to the India-US strategic partnership. They also expressed satisfaction that issues relating to WTO trade facilitation had been satisfactorily resolved. Counter-terror cooperation, economic matters and issues of regional interest also figured in the talks,” said an official release.
Though the US has brought its largest ever business delegation of 130 members to India, US businesses, however, have sought clarity on government policies as well as early passage of the recently promulgated ordinances on insurance and land.
“The world is re-awakening to a promise of a resurgent India. Over the past one year, investors are hopeful of the government,” said Ajaypal Singh Banga, chairman of the US- India Business Council and president and CEO Mastercard.
He, however, said industry and investors still need clarity on issues such as retrospective taxation, goods and services tax, land and labour laws and intellectual property rights.
While welcoming the government’s decision to promulgate ordinances on insurance and land, he said, “The ordinances are outstanding as they reflect the government’s decision to go ahead with change but investors look for their passage as well.”
The USIBC, Banga said, is also working on a bilateral investment treaty.