NEW DELHI, INDIA—U.S Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue told India’s business leaders today that “there has never been a better time or opportunity to lift U.S.-India trade and investment relations to a whole new level.”
In a speech to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Donohue said, “the United States is just starting to emerge from a severe recession in which more than 8 million Americans lost their jobs. India must also accelerate its growth in order to provide jobs for the millions of young people who enter its workforce each year. More trade and investment between us means more jobs and prosperity for both of us.”
Donohue lauded the recent expansion of trade as well as historic policy achievements such as the U.S.-India Civilian Nuclear Agreement. Yet he emphasized that in a competitive global economy, “the smartest way to celebrate past success is to move quickly to build on it.”
“It’s time to start writing the next chapter in the positive U.S.-India commercial relationship, with the private sectors in both countries leading the way,” Donohue said.
“Let’s collaborate on innovation,” Donohue said. “Let’s partner on infrastructure. Let’s jointly develop clean, plentiful, and diverse supplies of energy. Let’s bring efficiencies and productivity to each other’s economies—through India’s innovative value-adding IT industry and America’s strength in the retailing, logistics, and education sectors. Let bring our most talented people together to invent and apply technologies that can address the food, water, health, environmental, and security needs of our people.”
The U.S. Chamber President assured his audience that “the interest and enthusiasm of the American private sector in India has reached an all-time high.”
“The moment I told our members I was coming here, my office was deluged with calls, questions, information, and requests,” Donohue noted. “There’s no lack of desire on the part of American companies from many sectors and all sizes to do business in India. The important question is: What will it take to move our trade to the next level?”
Donohue urged the governments in both countries to “catch up to the private sector and put in place the right policy environment so that our companies can create a surge of new joint ventures, increase investment flows in both directions, expand our trade, create millions of new jobs, and yes, generate new tax revenues that can help address deficits in both Washington and New Delhi.”
Donohue cited restrictive visa policies in both countries, antiquated export control rules in the United States, remaining sectors still to be opened, and overly restrictive investment caps in key sectors in India as issues needing attention. Both nations have made progress in fighting intellectual property theft and protecting innovation, he noted, but “there are important remaining steps we both need to take.”
Donohue said he hoped Indian lawmakers would quickly resolve remaining implementation issues surrounding the Civilian Nuclear pact, “so that the Indian people can begin reaping the benefits of this historic agreement.” Noting that both India and the United States have each been blamed in recent years for the stalled Doha trade negotiations, the Chamber President suggested that “this reputation, fair or not, puts us in an influential position to work together to get things moving again, and I believe we have a responsibility to do that.”
Key business organizations such as the U.S. Chamber, CII, and the U.S.-India Business Council have a critical role to play in deepening commercial and friendship ties between the countries, Donohue emphasized.
“We must speak forcefully while respectfully to our governments in order to achieve the policy tools we need to expand trade and commerce between us,” Donohue said. “And, we must inform elected officials and citizens about the importance of free enterprise, with open trade and capital markets and reasonable levels of taxation and regulation. By fostering the spirit of enterprise at every level of society, we can continue to lift living standards, reduce poverty, create jobs, and generate growth that is sustainable and inclusive.”
Following his address, Donohue will meet with senior government ministers, including India’s Deputy Planning Chairman, the Competition Commissioner, the Commerce Secretary, and the Roads Minister. Aviation Minister Praful Patel joined Donohue on the dais to encourage more U.S. firms to participate in India’s civil aviation sector, part of a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to be implemented by India over the next five years.
Following meeting with India’s Finance Ministry in New Delhi, Donohue will fly to Mumbai, the financial capital, to meet with business leaders and India’s largest banks. This includes SBI’s chairman, Reliance’s chairman, the Hinduja Group, among many others. Donohue also requested a tour of the Taj Hotel in Mumbai to pay his respects to the brave men and women who stood together in the face of terrorism, and to reaffirm American companies’ solidarity with the people of India.
Donohue's prepared remarks are available at: http://tinyurl.com/y8xxmgw
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.