India says lift ban on dual use items; dangles $270 bn business

March 24th, 2009 - 9:45 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 24 (IANS) India has asked the US to lift the ban on sale of dual use items, noting that besides $150 billion business for American nuclear power reactors it could lead to another $120 billion in defence sales.

“With the opening up of nuclear commerce with India, there is a need now to review and remove these unnecessary restrictions on international trade with dual use item and technology,” Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on nuclear issues Shyam Saran said Monday.

“As India’s economy matures and its industry moves into higher-end manufacturing, the demand for high technology goods and services is destined for a major boost,” he said in a keynote speech at the Brookings, a Washington think tank on “Indo-US civil nuclear agreement: Expectations and Consequences”.

“And the US, of course, remains preferred source of such goods and services,” he said expressing the hope that “the so-called Entity List, which still prohibits sale of US technology and services to a number of Indian high-tech companies, will be scrapped sooner than later.

Hit by the global economic crisis India’s growth rate is likely to go down 2 or 3 percentage points in the next couple of years, but energy and defence will remain at the top of India’s national agenda, Saran said.

“This should encourage the US to look at India as a welcome source of demand for its goods and services, even as the global economy contracts,” he said.

Saran, who played a key role in negotiating the nuclear deal, said India’s offer to buy upto 10,000 megawatts of US nuclear power reactors “may translate into $150 billion worth of projects, with significant business opportunities and potential collaboration for both Indian and US companies.”

If India maintains its current level of defence spending to achieve its medium and long-term goals of force upgradation, then a growing part of the expected 10 year plan of $120 billion could be reoriented towards the US supplies, he said.

“This will require the US to overcome lingering Indian doubts about the reliability of US supplies,” Saran said suggesting that the two countries “work together to find a mutually acceptable solution which will take care of US legal requirements about end use monitoring of transferred defence articles and also meet our sensitivities.”

Saran said he was certain “we will be able to do so quickly given our past experience and also given the interest both our countries have in strengthening this relationship.”

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