Remarks by DCM Ambassador Arun K. Singh at Indo-American Chamber of Commerce Annual Gala: 25 August, 2012.
India-US Trade and Economic Partnership: Emerging Trends; Technology and Innovation.
I am touched by the warmth of your welcome tonight.
2. I would like to thank the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston and other organizers for extending me the honour of being the Chief Guest at your Annual Gala 2012.
3. IACC has been in the forefront of advocacy for India, for Indian Americans and India-US relations. The Indian-American community is one of the most important stakeholders in strengthening commercial linkages between our two countries and forging deeper people to people ties. Your initiatives to foster bilateral commercial partnerships; in uniting various Indian-American business alliances in the area; by contributing to the development of small businesses in the region; and through a meaningful exchange of ideas and assessments has impacted the overall atmosphere of the India-US relationship in an extremely positive way. I thank you for being an important voice and a positive sentiment in our relationship.
4. The entire framework of India-US relations draws its strength from three key pillars: political; trade and economic; and the overarching aspect of people to people relationships.
5. Business ties naturally do not grow in isolation. The existing frequency, breadth and intensity of our political engagement is reflective of the great transformation in the relationship. India and US have declared a Strategic Partnership. Bilateral cooperation has entered new frontiers. We exchange views on almost all issues of bilateral, regional and global interest, without compromising on the strategic autonomy of our respective decision making on such matters. President Obama, during his visit to India, had said that the India-US partnership would be a defining partnership of the 21st century. The Indian Prime Minister had said that India-US relations are better today than ever before, but the best was yet to come.
6. During January to May 2012, there were several high level visits from US to India, including those of Secretary Bryson, Secretary Clinton, and Secretary Panetta. June marked the arrival of what was described by many as the Indian summer (both physically and figuratively) in Washington D.C. External Affairs Minister of India led the Indian delegation to the 3rd Meeting of the India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue. Human Resource Development Minister Mr. Sibal headed the bilateral Education Dialogue; and Health Minister Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad met with Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss bilateral cooperation in the field of Health. In June we also held the Cyber Security and the ICT Dialogues. The trend of high level visits continues in months ahead, with visit of India’s Commerce and other Ministers to US scheduled in September. From the US side Governors of the State of North Carolina; Washington State and Kentucky are expected to travel to India in coming months.
7. The vitality of private sector cooperation between our two countries drives and manifests itself in multifaceted commercial engagement. One of its key components, two-way trade has been growing rapidly; has more than doubled over the past four years; and reached a level of US$ 100 billion last year. It is broadly a balanced trade relationship. In addition, capital flows and investment efforts are also now taking place in both directions. Over the last five years Indian companies have invested about 30 billion dollars in US economy. Indian IT sector has contributed 15 billion dollars as taxes here over the same period, and about 3 billion dollars as social security contributions.
8. Trends indicate that in coming years, partnerships in technology and innovation would provide new growth avenues.
9. I also feel that in our growing commercial ties, direct business links between Indian companies and businesses in and around Houston would be an important element. It has, therefore, been our effort to strengthen our outreach to the different States in the United States as also to individual business centres such as Houston.
10. Greater Houston area has been home to some of the dynamic and important industries in the US economy. This includes energy (including exploration, production, oil field service and supply); manufacturing; advanced technology; nano-technology; biotechnology; and aerospace. All these would be important in expanding the existing trade and investment links between our two countries; and to develop new institutional and businesses links.
11. Investments from India have grown in the recent past in Texas with a number of joint ventures and US subsidiaries of Indian firms having been established. These have created numerous jobs in Texas and have contributed to overall economic growth and public welfare. There has also been a spurt of Indian students, especially at the graduate and doctoral level, coming to the institutions of higher education in Texas. I can say without hesitation, that Texas has emerged as one of the important nodes of our bilateral economic, technological and energy engagement.
12. Energy cooperation (both fossil fuels and renewable), has been emphasized as a priority area in ongoing India-US discussions. In November 2010, President Obama and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had established the Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center (JCERDC). The Center committed US$ 25 million in funding by each side, with commitment for matching funds by consortia partners on both sides. We have already announced awards for three consortia projects, in the fields of advanced bio fuels, energy efficiency in buildings and solar energy. The projects would bring together experts from national laboratories, universities, and industry in both India and the US to leverage their expertise and resources to work to unlock the huge potential of clean energy technologies. The upcoming meeting of India-US Energy Dialogue in September 2012 will carry forward our bilateral cooperation in this field.
13. The Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL), has opened an office here, and invested in acquiring its first shale gas assets in USA, by buying 20% stake in a US project. We are also procuring 3.5 million tones of US natural gas on long-term basis. There is potential to do much more. This is an immense area of opportunity and I am confident that Indian business would be happy to explore trade and investment agreements with their US counter parts in both upstream and downstream segments. We could also partner in undertaking research in the field of petrochemicals; advanced technologies for oil exploration and production; and energy efficiency. We could also tap into opportunities for cooperation in alternative energy including wind; solar and other forms of green energy.
14. In the fields of bio-technology and life sciences; advanced technology; and innovation, private sector stakeholders on both sides can exploit the potential inherent in Houston’s strong capabilities in this field and India’s factor endowments.
15. For example, In the field of bio-technology, Indian bio-tech clusters based in Bangalore and Hyderabad can cooperate with Houston based biotech clusters, companies and research facilities in multiple domains including agricultural, biomedical, oncology, genomics, and medical devices. Specific opportunities could include building research partnerships; development of new drugs; working together on clinical trials; and developing new products for the Indian and the world market. Advanced diagnostics and health care could be another area where labs in Houston and genomic analysis firms in India could commercially partner.
16. At the level of two governments, India and US have also established an India-US S&T Endowment Board & Fund of US$ 30 million from equal contribution for Joint Research and Development, Innovation, Entrepreneurial and Commercialization activities in Science and Technology. As a first step, three projects in two priority areas. ‘Healthy Individual’ and ‘Empowering Citizens Through Bridging Digital Divide’ have been finalized.
17. When one talks of innovation in the Indian context, it must be mentioned that for us need for innovative products and services is a developmental imperatives. Given the heterogeneity of the Indian economy, our need, and the goal, is to use innovation as an engine of economic growth and to bridge vital development gaps in agriculture, rural development; delivery of governance related services; expand the outreach of education; and ensure financial inclusion of our poor. The President of India has declared the present decade as the ‘Decade of Innovation’ in India. We want the innovation to be commercially viable and socially relevant. In fact, several cost effective technologies have already emerged from India including those such as speech synthesizer, solar powered ATM, mobile phone based banking, diagnostic equipment. And the list is growing.
18. In terms of specifics, India is working to create a complete framework that includes setting up of State and Sectoral Innovation Councils; Innovation Centers within industry specific clusters; a US$ 1 billion India Innovation Fund has been proposed that that will drive and catalyse enterprise, entrepreneurship, and venture capital, targeted at innovative solutions for the bottom of the pyramid. It will also be listed on India’s stock exchange. Overall work will be supervised by the National Innovation Council.
19. Innovation was also in focus during President Obama’s visit to India in 2010. The President held an Entrepreneurs Roundtable with 21 young entrepreneurs on both sides showcasing their joint initiatives including in the fields of clean transport; solar power; clean drinking water and drug discovery.
20. Besides innovation and advanced technology, India’s priority to invest in modernizing its infrastructure sector - over $ 1 trillion in the next five years, also opens opportunities for US firms in Houston to invest and harness opportunities for collaboration in this sector. Most of this investment is expected to come through Public Private Partnerships. I would encourage the businesses in Houston not to miss the immense business potential inherent in India’s commitment to build its entire infrastructure.
21. Let me also say a word about the Indian economy which has been a focus of much attention in the US media. One of the key drivers of growth in bilateral commercial ties has been India’s strong GDP growth. We realize that after years of high growth, Indian economy is facing the challenges of global slow-down and economic stress and uncertainty in the Euro zone. But, as Prime Minister recently observed, fundamentals of the Indian economy remain strong and we remain confident of its rebound. Indeed, Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council has observed that India’s GDP will grow at 6.7% in the current financial year. India’s huge market, growing purchasing power, growing middle class, the domestic growth driven by strong domestic consumption continue to provide the stimulus to the growth elements in the Indian economy. We are also committed to create an atmosphere that is conducive to investments and addresses our goals of inclusive economic growth.
22. Going beyond all this I feel the strongest element in our partnership is the people-to-people dimension. There are now nearly 3 million Indian Americans in the US. Around 100,000 Indian students in US Universities contribute 3 billion dollars annually as tuition fees. There are 60,000 Indian origin doctors in US. 40%of all hotel rooms are owned and managed by Indian Americans. Many India-US technology partnerships have been generated by people who went back from the US, having worked here for several years and set up establishments in India. And to add to all these we have made cooperation in education a thrust area. First Higher Education Summit was held in October last year in Washington DC, the second was held in June with a focus on cooperation not just among Universities but also in community colleges. Internet enabled collaboration, networked scientific collaboration are being consolidated; and all these will generate an ecosystem within which new trends will be created and seized.
23. Let me thank IACC once again for welcoming me as the Chief Guest of today’s event. I am confident that your support and contribution, and continuing efforts will only further enrich the remarkable story of India-US commercial and economic engagement.
Thank you very much.