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Ambassador Marantis in Mumbai, India

08/10/2009 - 5:43pm

Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis spent today in Mumbai, India as part of his official visit to the country. During this week, Ambassador Marantis will be working with the Indian government on trade and investment matters under the Trade Policy Forum (TPF).

An interagency collaboration, the USTR-led TPF is the principal trade dialogue between the United States and India. It has five Focus Groups: Agriculture, Investment, Innovation & Creativity (intellectual property rights), Services, and Tariff & Non-Tariff Barriers. U.S. and Indian Focus Group chairs meet periodically to work towards resolution of issues that impede trade and investment flows.

This morning Ambassador Marantis met with Dr. Ashok Ganguly, one of three members of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Investment Commission to discuss India's dynamic investment climate, challenges for foreign investors, and the work of the commission to advise the government on investment policies.

Then Ambassador Marantis met with the managing directors of Cipla, an Indian manufacturer of largely generic pharmaceutical drugs. He also met with John Deere Vice President Sidharth Mande who gave an excellent assessment of the Indian economy, an overview of the agricultural sector and introduced John Deere's vision for capturing more market share in tractor sales while also extending into other important products and services, such as micro-irrigation.

Finally, Ambassador Marantis addressed bachelor and masters students at the Burhani College of Commerce and Arts, founded by the Bohra-sect of Islam, about the U.S.-India relationship and the Trade Policy Forum strategy to enhance trade. He then answered questions ranging from U.S. efforts on economic recovery, the U.S. trade policy with respect to China, and what the U.S. is doing specifically to promote investment. Burhani College was founded in 1976 and is affiliated with the University of Mumbai. Currently, over 4,000 students are attending the college.

"Today, I am in India thinking about the future. ...As Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, I am meeting with India's government ministers, American and Indian businesses, and non-governmental organizations. And perhaps most important, I am talking to you. Because you are not just thinking about India's future, you are India's future.

The United States and India begin this new era of engagement with the wind at our backs. Trade in manufactured goods, services, and agriculture has doubled in last three years and grown exponentially over the past decade. American companies are investing in India to create jobs, and Indian companies are investing the United States to put Americans to work. You have heard of IBM, Dell, Citibank, John Deere and UPS. These are just a small fraction of the major corporations that have invested millions of dollars and created thousands of jobs in India.

...I am here to work with the Indian government to devise a Trade Policy Forum (TPF) that is better equipped to facilitate greater two-way trade and investment. As you may know, the TPF was launched in 2005 and is the focus of our dialogue on trade policy matters. In the past, the TPF concentrated on agriculture and services trade, investment, intellectual property protection, and tariff and non-tariff barriers. But we can do more. I believe that we can reinvigorate the TPF by exploring other areas of cooperation and binding ourselves to meet more often and advance our common interests.

For example, can we do more to promote trade in environmental goods and services trade? Can we improve trade in health and education services? Is there a better way for us to resolve the tough persistent issues, and is there a better way to measure our progress? These are some of the questions I will be discussing with Commerce Secretary Khullar. And they are ones on which I would also like to hear your views.

We expect to convene the Trade Policy Forum later this fall and send a signal to U.S. and Indian companies that our governments are serious about giving traders the tools they need to expand their commercial opportunities. Last year, India was our 17th largest trading partner. That rank should - and hopefully will be - improved to the top ten in the next decade."

Ambassador Marantis will travel to New Delhi tomorrow to continue his visit. Be sure to check back for more coverage of his trip.