U.S. Commerce Secretary to lead trade mission to India in March

The economic crisis in the US has not resulted in a slowdown in Indian exports, and Indian businesses in the U.S. continue to add value and create jobs during what is a difficult period for America, Nirupama Rao, Indian Ambassador to the U.S. said on Monday.

Addressing journalists after a business interactive meeting hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), she said Indian companies spread over 43 States in the U.S. were creating jobs during the economic downturn and were key to the recovery of the US economy.

There was also no contraction in demand for Indian goods in the US and Indian exports were likely to cross $ 54 billion this year as against $ 43 billion the previous year.

“Despite the economic downturn, the prognosis is very good for exports,” Ms. Rao said.

Noting that India's exports to the U.S. were dominated by commodities, Ms. Rao said the trade in goods had to diversify to manufacturing, and in this context, the new national manufacturing policy that has been announced by India would be a key instrument for this purpose.

The Indo-U.S. collaboration can greatly facilitate technology upgrade and adoption of innovative practices that are integral to the infusion of foreign investment in manufacturing. “I think there is enormous potential to expand and diversify our export basket to US,” she said.

Biotechnology, medical devices, engineering goods, agriculture and horticulture, education, healthcare and R & D for new products were some of the potential new areas of bilateral business relations, the Ambassador said.

The Indian Embassy in Washington and the five Consulates in the U.S. were keen to work with Indian industry to identify specific products that can be exported to the U.S.

“In fact, we will be happy to map the U.S. market in terms of the exports that interest you,” she said.

On the concerns about getting H1B visas, Ms. Rao said India has consistently emphasised the need for a free and fair movement of professionals between the two countries and would continue to do so. “We should find ways to move forward and strengthen bilateral relations,” the Ambassador said.

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson is slated to lead a trade mission to India in March next year to promote U.S. exports and discuss trade policy issues in response to India's infrastructure development agenda, she said.

Ms. Rao also floated the idea of establishing a world class cancer institute in India with US collaboration and wanted the process to be kick started by inviting US experts over for discussions on setting up a centre for cancer treatment, research, adopting Best Practices and co-innovation.

M. Rafeeque Ahmed, Chairman, FICCI Tamil Nadu State Council and P. Murari, Adviser to the FICCI president also participated.