US, India should enhance defence, energy cooperation: Envoy

Mumbai, April 16 (IANS) US Ambassador Nancy J. Powell has stressed the need for enhanced cooperation between the two countries with specific focus on infrastructure, defence, energy and child care among other sectors.

Since both countries have been targeted by terror attacks and security is an area of concern, the defence trade needs to expand, Powell said at an Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) function here Monday night.

“Both of us have incredibly complex acquisitions and sales systems. So we’ve been working on that. We’re going to be looking at ways, whether there are things that we could co-produce, and expand that band of our relationship as well,” she said.

Another area was recognizing India’s growing role in the world and the region and see how the US could help it further enhance it so both could work together on a variety of global problems and issues, she said.

Powell noted that according to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study, the Indian economy will more than quadruple by 2030, making it the third largest in the world and presenting enormous opportunities for US businesses and cooperation.

But, the envoy said there are multiple quarters of slowing GDP growth and stalling of the investment cycles and India must not be complacent about some of these problems, “but rather take them on.”

Though weak global economic conditions impacted India and the US both, many problems are within India’s power to resolve, she said.

“The slow pace of approvals when new businesses want to start, combined with government decisions and policies that exacerbate uncertainties in treatment, and mixed messages for investors are a problem for our American companies,” she said.

“Also we look at the local manufacturing policies that disrupt global supply networks. How do we deal with those in a world that is becoming more and more global? Uneven IPR enforcement efforts also hurt innovation and affect not only the foreign pharmaceutical businesses but also India’s own economic growth prospects,” Powell contended.

However, she expressed satisfaction that recent economic reforms will help address some of these issues.

On infrastructure, Powell said according to current estimates, nearly 80 percent of infrastructure required to sustain and support India for the 2030 goal has yet to be built or designed and its financing arranged. US companies could help in this area, she added.

Touching upon health-care, Powell said it was imperative to ensure that every single child survived till the age of five.

“But those first five years are very, very difficult in many, many places in the world, including some parts of India. It turns out in India one of the big problems is the first five days of life,” Powell said, urging companies and NGOs to work on issues like safe water and safe delivery of babies.

On the energy sector, she said the US-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy, initiated in 2009, has mobilized more than $1.7 billion for clean projects in India, including installing 40 percent of its first 1,000 MW of solar capacity.

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