India today said that it was not stealing American jobs and, in fact, outsourcing was raising productivity there, while President Barack Obama said he had not made a “boogeyman” out of the issue on which he’s facing pressure at home.
Addressing a joint press conference with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the last leg of his India visit, that comes shortly after his Democratic party suffered poll reversals on unemployment and other economic issues, Obama said that USD 10 billion worth deals signed with India would create 50,000 jobs in the U.S.
“...when I go back to the U.S., a part of the reason that I advertised these 50,000 jobs is I want to be able to say to the American people when they ask me why are you spending time with India when they are taking our jobs. I want to be able to say they actually created 50,000 jobs and that’s why we should not be resorting to protectionist measures. We should not be thinking that it’s just a one-way street. I want both the citizens of the U.S. and India to understand the ties between the two countries,” the President said.
Following him up, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought to assuage fears among Americans, saying “As far as India is concerned, India is not in the business of stealing jobs from the U.S. Outsourcing industry, I believe, has helped to improve the productive capacity and productivity of American industries.”
To a pointed question whether America’s concern on job losses due to outsourcing work to India were misplaced, Obama said: “First of all, I don’t think you heard me make outsourcing a boogeyman during the course of my address in Mumbai.”
He added that he had cautioned at a meeting of business leaders in Mumbai that both countries are operating on stereotypes that have outlived their usefulness and that the two had enormous win-win potential.
The US accounts for about 60 per cent of India’s estimated USD 60 billion IT and IT-enabled services exports.
The deals that the U.S. had struck with India would create jobs in the U.S., he said, adding that he was proud that U.S. wanted to sell some of the high-tech products to growing Indian market.
He, however, pointed out that the same technologies would help grow Indian entrepreneurs, create jobs here and build up Indian infrastructure.
On his part, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh welcomed the decision by the US to lift controls on exports of US high-technology items and “support India’s membership in multilateral exports control regime such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
“This is the manifestation of growing trust and confidence in each other.”
Singh said India needed American assistance by way of capital export and would welcome American investment here.
“India needs an investment of more than a trillion dollars in the next five years for its infrastructure development projects. We need American contribution in fulfilling the ambition of ours.”
Dubbing America as a home of ‘high technology’, Singh said India needed technology to upgrade skills in both civilian and defence sectors, which would be a significant factor in strengthening of cooperation between the two nations.
While Obama described India as a power that has emerged on the global stage, Singh said the deals signed between corporations of the two countries was truly an example of trade being a win—win situation for both the nations.
The Prime Minister said that he had communicated to the U.S. that any protectionism was detrimental to the two nations, while pointing that India was among the fastest growing source of investments in the U.S. helping the American economy to grow.
U.S. data shows that Indian companies invested USD 4.5 billion in America in 2008 and as of now, India is the second largest investor after the UAE.
India receives about 8 per cent of total foreign investment from the U.S. FDI in 2009—10 was USD 25.8 billion, while Indo—US trade in 2009—10 stood at USD 36.5 billion.
In fact, Singh pointed out that U.S. was India’s largest trading partner, while the US President is desirous of making India its top trade partner from 12th position now.
“We welcome U.S. investments and high technology in key sectors of our economy, including nuclear energy. We have agreed to facilitate trade and people-to-people exchanges, recognising that protectionism is detrimental to both our economies,” Singh said.
Reciprocating, President Obama said: “We have agreed to reducing trade barriers and resist protectionism. As a result of this visit, we have already started implementing our civil nuclear agreement.”
In this context, he said: “We have agreed to reform our controls on exports” and welcome India’s preliminary agreement to purchase 10 C-17 cargo planes that would enhance Indian capability and support 22,000 jobs in the US.
He also assured that America would remove Indian organisations from the so-called ‘entity list’ to help greater cooperation in a range of hi—tech sectors like civil, space and defence.
The two leaders also committed to play together a greater role to address the concerns afflicting the global economy.
President Obama evaded a direct question on the contentious issue of valuation of Chinese currency, saying: .
“The Federal Reserve is an independent body and it doesn’t take orders from the White House. And it is important as a policy on institutional matter that we don’t comment on particular Federal actions.
“I will say that Fed’s mandate and my mandate is to grow our economy.”
Talking about the global economic crisis and its impact on the US, Obama said the worst thing that could happen to the world economy was to be stuck with no growth or very limited growth.
“I think that’s the Fed’s concern and my concern as well now. When we go to the G20, we are going to talk about a host of issues. how do we start creating balance and sustainable growth,” the President said.
Referring to a situation in which some countries were maintaining massive surpluses and others massive deficits, without the adjustments with respect to currencies, he said India was part of the solution and not a part of the problem.
“India has been moving in a more liberal direction under Prime Minister Singh’s leadership and India has been a very constructive partner in some of these international issues and I expect this will continue so.”
On the global economic situation, Singh said that the world needed a new balance between deficit countries and surplus countries and the global leaders would focus on these issues at the meeting of G20 in Seoul later this month.