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US envoy sees more trade opportunities in defence sector

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on April 13, 2018 Published on February 07, 2018

Kenneth I Juster, US Ambassador to India, addressing the session organised by The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the American Chamber of Commerce, Eastern region   -  Debashish Bhaduri

Indo-Pacific strategy is a natural complement to ‘Act East’ policy, says Kenneth Juster

India is projected to spend $150 billion in the defence sector over the next 10-15 years; thereby giving rise to an enormous trade opportunities in the segment for the US, Kenneth I Juster, US Ambassador to India, said here on Wednesday.

According to him, defence equipment sales have grown up from zero to $15 billion in a decade and this rising “trend must continue”.

“There is the defence sector where we have gone from nearly zero sales to close to $15 billion in a decade — and this includes sales of some of the America’s most-advanced military equipment. We want to see this trend continue — because India’s defence needs are vast…..” he said during an interactive session organised by The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the American Chamber of Commerce, Eastern region.

According to Juster, the Indo-Pacific strategy is a natural complement to India’s “Act East” policy. The strategy rests on a guaranteed freedom of navigation, overflight and commerce; ensuring peaceful resolution of territorial and maritime disputes; promoting economic connectivity through private sector led growth and transparent development of infrastructure. The Indo-Pacific region, he said, should not see conflict and predatory economic policy.

“As we look forward to the future, it is vital that the region, which is so central to our relationship, continues to be free and open….. We welcome India’s leadership with us in this venture…. to ensure that the Indo-Pacific is increasingly a place of peace, stability and growing prosperity, rather than one of disorder, conflict and predatory economic policy,” the Ambassador maintained.

Bilateral trade

For Juster, India is in the midst of an economic surge. And with the recent Economic Survey predicting a 7-7.5 per cent growth in the coming year, there is scope for further growth in India-US trade relations. Bilateral trade has risen from $20 billion to $ 115 billion in 2016.

“We should easily be able to increase the markets, there is still plenty of room to expand these numbers. We should be easily able to increase the flow of goods and services in both directions,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s thrust on economic growth and on the regulatory reform process is already making India being seen as an “increasingly efficient, transparent and well regulated market,” Juster added.

To a specific question on whether negative news about India in US papers would affect investment sentiments, the Ambassador replied in the negative.

“India is a vibrant democracy. But I can say that those in the business, finance or technology sectors do not make their investments based on media reports. So the fact that the press should raise questions that may be fitted into the overall background assessment; but it is not really what goes into a company making decisions,” he said.

Published on February 07, 2018
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