The U.S. will like to work with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her administration, Robert Blake Jr., Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, said here on Friday after talks with Ms. Banerjee. The law and order situation in the State, trade, and educational ties were among the issues discussed.
Later, speaking to journalists, he said the Chief Minister had given the assurance that progress was being made in regard to the security situation and attention being given to the “underlying economic conditions that give rise to Naxalism.”
A “good law and order situation” and a “hospitable climate” are things that investors would like to be sure about, Mr. Blake said.
“It is very important that the people of West Bengal identify proper opportunities for U.S. investors.”
“Though the decision lay with the State, there were potentials for investment in sectors like mining, energy, tourism, agriculture and education…American universities would like to set up partnerships here,” he said.
Earlier, addressing members of the Confederation of Indian Industry, Mr. Blake said “the future of India's economy looks very bright.” The country is likely to have the world's third largest economy in 2030 and the largest by 2050, he said.
“The incredible growth of India's economy has resulted in positive spill-over effects for the U.S.; 2010 broke records for U.S.-India trade in goods with [the] U.S. exports to India up [by] 17 percent and U.S. imports from India up 40 percent. This surge of nearly 30 percent to a high of $48.8 billion in goods trade moves India up [by] two notches to become our 12th largest goods trading partner. This positive trend continues, with two-way goods trade up 19 percent in the first quarter of 2011 over the same time period last year.”
“We in the government are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to open new opportunities for trade and investment,” Mr. Blake said, mentioning Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Washington at the end of June to hold a round of talks on U.S.-India economic and financial partnership with his counterpart Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
“The High Technology Cooperation Group, which has enabled both governments to significantly reduce barriers to trade in sensitive, cutting-edge high technology, will meet in mid-July in New Delhi,” he added.