India, US ‘working towards’ achieving $500-b trade target

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on April 28, 2015

US Ambassador Richard Verma

Ambassador Verma says issues around land acquisition, FDI hampering smart cities

India-US bilateral trade crossed the $100-billion mark in 2014 and the US is keen to work with India towards achieving an ambitious $500 billion, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma has said.

The country, however, needs to resolve issues related to land acquisition and foreign direct investment if it wants to attract foreign investments in its proposed smart cities, the Ambassador said on Tuesday, speaking at an event organised by the American Chamber of Commerce.

The glitches

“We do not have clarity on financing for the many projects that need to be done. Land acquisition, foreign direct investment and other questions still remain unresolved.

“The expectation of large amounts of private sector finance, either domestic or foreign, will be a challenge. These concerns mean many projects may not be commercially viable at the outset,” he said.

Investment pact

Verma was, however, upbeat on the possibility of a bilateral investment treaty between the two countries which, he said, would bolster investment confidence.

“Our teams met at the end of March to discuss India’s draft model text. India has already signed on to high standard investment protections with other strategic partners, such as Japan in 2010, so we know it is possible and doable,” he said. On the issue of growing bilateral trade, the US Ambassador said that if the two countries could achieve the goal of $500 billion in the next several years, the bilateral economic relationship would be 25 times larger than it was just 15 years back.

Amitabh Kant, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, said that the $500-billion target was achievable if India continued to move on a high-growth trajectory and managed to attract investments from US-based companies.

“We are prepared to do all the handholding required to help American companies create wealth for themselves and India,” he said.

Verma said that the involvement of the US Commerce Secretary and India’s Commerce Minister in a newly reconstituted Strategic and Commercial Dialogue was being formalised and the first meeting was expected in Washington in the “summer’’.

Published on April 28, 2015
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