A rising India will be important, influential friend: USFebruary 20th, 2010 - 11:45 am ICT by IANS
Chicago, Feb 20 (IANS) As India’s economy grows and its stature rises, it will be an increasingly important, and influential friend of the United States, buttressed in part by strong people to people ties, says a senior US official.
“Few relationships around the world matter more to our collective future, or hold greater promise for constructive action on the challenges that matter most to all of us, than the partnership between the United States and India,” Assistant Secretary of State Robert O. Blake said.
“That doesn’t mean that we will always agree, because we won’t,” he said addressing the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Friday.
“But together we can build on the solid foundation that already exists, an even stronger partnership that serves not only the interests of our two countries, but of the rest of the international community.”
Noting that President Barack Obama had called India “an indispensable nation” during Prime minister Manmohan Singh’s state visit last November, he said Obama “had further underscored the importance of India to the United States by promising to make a reciprocal visit to India, most likely later this year.”
“We see a country where increasingly convergent values and interests have allowed us to forge a strategic friendship that benefits both Indians and Americans,” Blake said noting, “Both countries believe we now have a unique opportunity to make progress on our broad bilateral agenda.”
As Manmohan Singh and Obama acknowledged that their relationship should have a greater focus on working together to improve agriculture, the first US-India Agriculture Dialogue meeting is expected within a few months in New Delhi to explore in detail how to move these initiatives forward.
Defence sales are also of great interest to American companies, Blake said taking note of some very important defence sales just in the last year or two of C-130Js and P-8 maritime patrol aircraft.
The Indian government also recently submitted a Letter of Request for 10 C-17 aircraft worth about $2.5 billion. And
that’s not the end of it.
There are large numbers of important potential deals, up to $18 billion worth of new opportunities that will become available in the next several years, Blake said.
Most notable is the multi-role combat aircraft purchase which by itself is a roughly $10 billion sale in which two American companies -Boeing and Lockheed Martin -are competing.
“That the Indians are now considering US manufacturers and US technology to meet their military aircraft requirements-which would have been unimaginable just 10 years ago-is just one measure of how far and how rapidly our relationship is evolving,” he said.
The “civil nuclear deal turned probably our most significant irritant in bilateral relations into an opportunity for cooperation,” he said. “This has the potential to lead to billions of dollars worth of opportunities for American companies, and many thousands of jobs as a result of that.”
Noting that India-US total trade has more than doubled just in the last 5 years, Blake said: “The better news for American companies is that while US imports from India doubled between 2003 and 2008, US exports to India grew by a factor of three and a half over the same time period.”
Among many other opportunities, India plans to spend $500 billion over the 5 years from 2008 to 2012 on infrastructure, and Midwestern companies like Caterpillar and others in the infrastructure and energy market can benefit greatly from this market potential, Blake said.
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