WASHINGTON — President Obama laid out new initiatives aimed at boosting trade and investment and expanding a high-level economic dialogue with India in a speech in New Delhi on Monday.
Speaking at a U.S.-India Business Council Summit, Obama said the U.S. is keen on increasing the $100 billion in bilateral trade it has with India. He is on a three-day visit to New Delhi with several U.S. lawmakers and Cabinet officials and has held several meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, senior Indian officials and business executives.
“In the last few years, we’ve increased trade between our countries by some 60 percent,” Obama said, according to a transcript of his speech. “Today, it’s nearly $100 billion a year, which is a record high. And this is a win-win. It’s a win for America and our workers because U.S. exports to India are up nearly 35 percent, and those exports support about 170,000 well-paying American jobs.”
Obama said Indian investment in the U.S. is also growing and supporting jobs in the U.S. While he noted the relationship is “moving in the right direction,” he also spoke of “untapped potential between the two countries.
“Of all America’s imports from the world, about 2 percent come from India,” he said. “Of all of America’s exports to the world, just over 1 percent go to India — 1 percent to over a billion people.”
He compared the $100 billion in trade the U.S. has with India to the $560 billion in trade the U.S. has with China.
“That gives you some sense of the potential both for the kind of growth that India might unleash, and the potential for greater trade between our two countries,” Obama said. “So I think everybody here will agree, we’ve got to do better.”
To that end, Obama revealed a series of U.S. initiatives that he said would generate more than $4 billion in trade and investment in India and support thousands of jobs in both countries.
Specifically, over the next two years, the U.S. Export-Import Bank will commit up to $1 billion in financing to support “Made-in-America” exports to India. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. government’s development finance arm, will also support lending to small and medium business across India, which the U.S. anticipates will result in more than $1 billion in loans in underserved rural and urban markets. And the U.S. Trade and Development Agency is set to leverage nearly $2 billion in investments in renewable energy in India.
The U.S. and India also said they will step up their efforts by expanding the current U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue into a new high-level “U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue.”
U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who is in New Delhi with a delegation of U.S. government officials, said the two countries “elevated” the current dialogue to the new Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, which she will cochair with Secretary of State John Kerry on the U.S. side.
“While we use this dialogue to produce concrete results, we will also use the dialogue to ensure that the United States and Indian businesses small, medium and large are in a position to capitalize on abundant opportunities that exist in both of our countries,” Pritzker said. “We’ll also use the dialogue to promote more trade and investment between our two nations and to identify new opportunities for economic and commercial cooperation that will improve the lives of both our peoples. And we’ll continue to use this dialogue to address the many strategic and political challenges that the U.S. and India must face together in the years ahead.”
Obama and Modi also addressed concerns about barriers to investment and trade in India raised by the business community at a roundtable earlier in the day. U.S. chief executive officers from Honeywell, the Walt Disney Co., PepsiCo and Westinghouse participated in the roundtable. Indian ceos from Cyrus Mistry, Tata Group and Mahindra Group also took part.
“Now, here in India, as the Prime Minister just discussed, there are still too many barriers — hoops to jump through, bureaucratic restrictions — that make it hard to start a business, or to export, to import, to close a deal, deliver on a deal,” Obama said. “Prime Minister Modi has initiated reforms that will help overcome some of these barriers, including a new government committee dedicated to fast-tracking American investments, and we enthusiastically support these efforts. We need to be incentivizing trade and investment, not stifling it. We need to be fostering a business environment that’s more transparent and more consistent, and more predictable.”