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India should continue on reform path: Gary Locke

Special Correspondent
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‘The country can lead the global economy in the 21st century'

TRADE MISSION: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke (right) with Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani at a business meeting in Mumbai on Thursday. — PHOTO: PTI
TRADE MISSION: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke (right) with Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani at a business meeting in Mumbai on Thursday. — PHOTO: PTI

If India continues its walk down ‘the path of reform,' if it continues to become more open to the investments and innovations of foreign companies, it will stand a much better chance of meeting the needs of its people and of helping to lead the global economy in the 21st century, said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke while addressing members of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the American Chamber of Commerce here on Thursday.

Mr. Locke, who returned to Mumbai for the final stop of his high-technology trade mission to India, highlighted the U.S.-India commercial relationship and encouraged development of new business opportunities between the members of the delegation and their Indian counterparts. He also talked about the great progress India had made in opening its markets to U.S. companies but noted that much more work needed to be done.

“We have made important progress this week, not just to lay the groundwork for more sales of U.S. goods in India, but to take another real step towards strengthening the bonds between the governments, the businesses and the people of India and the U.S.''

Mr. Locke is the first Cabinet Secretary to travel to India after President Obama's visit and is joined by a delegation of 24 U.S. businesses seeking to promote their technologies and services related to civil nuclear energy, civil aviation, defence and homeland security, and information and communications technology to India.

He also met Indian CEOs, including Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, who were part of the U.S.-India CEO Forum, as a follow up from their meeting during President Obama's trip to India in November last. Mr. Locke solicited the group's goals for the 2011 forum and they discussed a wide range of critical issues, including clean energy, standards and education.

Later, the U.S. Commerce Secretary delivered the keynote address at the National Association of Software and Service Companies India Leadership Forum, a flagship event for the Indian tech industry where business leaders from more than 20 countries participate to share their views and strategies, and discuss the way ahead in the tech sector.

A statement issued by the U.S. Consulate General in India said the mission is the first Secretary-led business development mission to India since 1997 and advances President Obama's National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports by 2015 supporting several million U.S. jobs.

The pace of trade between the U.S. and India is accelerating with U.S. goods exported to India quadrupling between 2002 and 2009 growing from $4.1 billion to more than $16.4 billion. Through the first 11 months of 2010, U.S. merchandise exports to India totalled $17.6 billion, up 17 per cent from the same period in 2009.


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