Nancy Powell evinces interest in setting up business desk in Jaipur
U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy J. Powell on Thursday evinced interest in setting up a business desk in Jaipur to facilitate trade and commerce between corporate entities of her country and those in Rajasthan. She said the U.S. recognises the significance of Rajasthan as a “key area of business development” vital to bilateral relations between the two countries.
Ms. Powell, who was on a two-day visit to the State Capital, met Governor Margaret Alva and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and held meetings with senior State officials as well as industry representatives. A nine-member business delegation accompanied her during the visit.
The key areas in the desert State identified by the U.S. envoy and CEOs of companies accompanying her included renewable energy, urban infrastructure, transportation, homeland security, gems and jewellery, education and skills development and the hospitality support system.
Ms. Powell told journalists at the end of her visit here on Thursday that there was vast scope for bilateral trade between the U.S. and India, which currently stands at $100 billion.
“There are enormous opportunities waiting to be explored in a State like Rajasthan. Jaipur, a rapidly growing city, can attract huge foreign investments,” she said.
On the recent controversy surrounding the reported lobbying by Walmart to gain access to Indian markets, Ms. Powel said the global retail giant had not violated any American laws and added that lobbying “does not amount to bribery”. The U.S. laws require the companies to disclose issues and expenditures associated with lobbying periodically, she said.
The first woman U.S. Ambassador to India said she was making visits to regions outside the metropolises to get an idea about the ambience, opportunities and prospects for expansion of ties. She has visited Assam, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala since assuming office in New Delhi in April last year.
She said though U.S. companies were doing good business in Gujarat, her country was “concerned” about the 2002 violence there and was monitoring the progress of cases relating to riots in courts and elsewhere. “Business ventures in Gujarat are a separate issue. The U.S. companies are doing well [in Gujarat].”
At her meeting with Chief Secretary C. K. Mathew and senior officers, Ms. Powell said U.S. companies will take advantage of opportunities available in various sectors in the State. U.S. Commercial Officers Greg O’Connor and Renie Subin and representatives of five U.S.-based companies of energy and infrastructure sectors also interacted with the State officers.
Mr. Mathew pointed out that Rajasthan had taken steps for rapid industrialisation through enabling legislations such as the Single Window Act. About 40 per cent of the proposed Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), passing through the State, offers immense business opportunities, he said while throwing light on the prospects for renewable energy generation.
Additional Chief Secretary (Urban Development) G. S. Sandhu outlined the recent initiatives for improving urban infrastructure of Jaipur and other towns. As one of the fastest growing cities in North India, Jaipur had several projects in urban development and transportation sectors in which the U.S. companies could participate, he said.
State Energy Secretary N. P. Gangwar said the desert State devoid of conventional energy sources like coal and hydel had a huge potential for solar and wind energy generation with conducive geographical factors. He also highlighted the initiatives in renewable energy sector focusing on solar programme and the energy conservation building codes.
Both sides pointed out that Ms. Powell's visit — the first to Rajasthan — had followed through the earlier visit of U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson with a trade delegation of 15 U.S. businessmen in March last year.
At an interactive session organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry, emphasis was laid on “industry dialogue” between the two countries for taking the bilateral relations one step ahead.