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Kerry Seeks Stronger US-India Trade Ties

  • Pamela Dockins

Secretary of State John Kerry said he is convinced that if the United States and India work together, the two countries can help forge a “new era of shared possibility” that could benefit millions of people in India and across Asia.

Kerry, speaking at an Indian investment forum hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said the U.S. wants to expand trade and investment ties with India.

"We share Prime Minister Modi's goal of increasing our countries' annual trade five-fold in the years ahead and we want to expand our commercial ties and change the way our businesses talk with one another,” said the U.S. diplomat, who also visited the home of Indian peace activist Mahatma Gandhi on Sunday.

Kerry told business leaders and dignitaries at the Vibrant Gujarat investment summit the U.S. supports Modi’s goals of promoting economic growth while still protecting the environment.

“Together we can create an environment where all of our companies play leading roles in bringing cutting edge technologies, equipment, capital and know how, not just India but to countless countries that need this growth and development now,” he said.

Modi pledged to address bureaucratic red tape and other problems that have made businesses wary of investing in India.

"Since the first day, my government is actively working to revive the economy. My government is committed to create a policy environment that is predictable, transparent and fair,” Modi said.

Business friendly

A senior State Department official said India has already taken some “concrete steps” to appear more business-friendly, such as liberalizing the ability to invest in insurance, defense and medical equipment and announcing land reforms.

But there is room for improvement, said Michael Kugelman, a South Asia analyst with the Woodrow Wilson Center.

“If Modi follows through on these pledges, such as the “Make in India” initiative, that could really have a lot of benefits for the U.S. economy and also for the U.S. - India relationship overall,” Kugelman said.

In September, Modi met with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington. Kerry is also using his visit to India to set up Obama’s trip to the country later this month.