US committed to help Tamil Nadu, says Powell
Chennai: The United States is committed to help Tamil Nadu realise the goals set in its Vision 2023 document, to put the state on par with upper middle income countries in southeast Asia, said the US envoy to India.
Speaking at a function organised by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce here Monday, US Ambassador Nancy J. Powell said: "The United States is committed to helping Tamil Nadu realise these goals by building on a trade relationship that stretches back for centuries."
The Vision 2023 document, released this March, targets 11 percent growth in the gross state domestic product (GSDP) for Tamil Nadu over the next ten years.
According to Powell, the US appointed its first Consular Agent to Chennai in 1794.
She said Tamil Nadu is home to major American companies in almost every economic sector creating direct and indirect jobs.
"Moving forward, the United States is committed to working with progressive state leaders to reduce barriers to trade and investment and strengthen mutually beneficial economic relationships between our two countries," Powell said.
She said progressive states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat present an incredible opportunity for American businesses.
The US mission in India would expand state-level trade and investment between US and India, Powell said.
Citing consultancy firm McKinsey report, Powell said India will need to invest USD 143 billion in health care, USD 392 billion in transportation infrastructure and USD 1.25 trillion in energy production by 2030 to support its rapidly expanding population.
Powell said US companies can help India accomplish these goals by reducing barriers to foreign investment.
Referring to the challenges in growth of bilateral trade between India and the US, Powell said she is concerned at high tariff and non-tariff barriers, restrictions on foreign investment, lack of transparency and defence offset requirements.
"The adoption of manufacturing policies discriminatory to foreign companies and the inclusion of retroactive tax provisions in the Finance Bill are two examples," Powell said.
Referring to the discussions between India and the US on drafting a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), she said a new round of negotiations soon.
"A BIT would enhance transparency and predictability for investors, and support economic growth and job creation in both our countries," she said.
Stating that the defence equipment deals are one of the highest growth rates that India and the US partnership has experienced, Powell remarked: "We are poised to sign an additional USD 8 billion in Direct Commercial and Foreign Military Sales (FMS)."
With the C-17 and C-130J (military aircrafts) sale, the US had more than doubled its FMS and in the process made India the third largest FMS market for 2011, Powell said.
Tracing the economic ties between the two countries over the years, Powell said the bilateral trade is expected to touch USD 100 billion mark this year.