Biden pitches for expanding Indo-US trade

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BIDENMumbai, July 24;The U.S. on Wednesday pitched for further expanding the rapidly growing economic cooperation with India, with Vice President Joe Biden hoping the bilateral trade to grow five-fold if the two countries made “the right choices”.

“Our bilateral trade has increased five-fold to touch $100 billion in last 13 years. We see tremendous opportunity and there is no reason that if our countries make the right choices trade cannot grow five-fold or more,” Mr. Biden said delivering a lecture on ‘US-India Partnership’ at the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Describing India as a “rising power”, Mr. Biden lauded its plans for future growth.

He said India had “risen exponentially” over the past decade primarily because of the “bold steps” it took in 1991 towards liberalisation.

Economic reforms, he said, helped boost India’s exports from $20 billion to $300 billion.

Mr. Biden, the first U.S. Vice President to visit India in three decades, welcomed relaxation of FDI norms in certain sectors but said a lot more needed to be done to remove trade barriers.

“We still have a lot of work to do on a wide range of issues, including limit in FDI, inconsistent tax system, barriers to market access, civil nuclear cooperation, bilateral investment treaty and policies protecting innovations,” he said.

He was also appreciative of India’s role in the region and said, “We welcome India’s engagement in the region and its efforts to develop new trade and transportation links by land and by sea in the area.”

Acknowledging contribution of Indian expatriates to America’s growth story, he said, “The U.S. has benefited due to Indian human capital”.

Referring to Indo—US cooperation in the civil nuclear field, he said a power project of 6,000 MW could be set up in Gujarat with supply of nuclear reactors from American companies.

Appreciating India’s concern over its food security needs, he said, those would be addressed at the upcoming WTO meeting in December.

Talking about terrorism, the Vice President said both countries had been its victim and called for enhanced cooperation to tackle the menace.

Mr. Biden said the U.S. had been sharing intelligence with India on terror in order to avoid a 9/11 and 26/11-like situations.

He also supported India’s claim to a permanent seat in a revamped United Nations Security Council.

While referring to U.S.’ ties with China, Mr. Biden described it as a “healthy mix of competition and cooperation.”

“We are addressing the challenges in our economic relations with China. We view it in terms of a healthy mix of competition and cooperation. We just concluded agreement with China to reduce the use of pollutant called HFC that causes climate change,” he said.

Mr. Biden underscored the need for enhanced engagement between India, China and America. “The cooperation between the three big nations — India, China and the US — will help grow world economy,” he added.

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