Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
"India and the USA in the 21st Century: Aspirations and Collaborations"
Confederation of Indian Industry
Monday, November 7, 2011
New Delhi, India
As prepared for delivery
Good afternoon and thank you all for that warm welcome. It’s a pleasure to be with you today in a city that I enjoy so much.
One year ago, I had the privilege of traveling to New Delhi with President Obama. It was a remarkable experience. The people, the energy, the progress, the potential — it’s just an exciting place to visit. And, it’s great to be back. I thank the Confederation of Indian Industry for hosting us today.
CII has been a great partner for us at the Department of Commerce. There are a number of people who deserve credit for this close friendship. But, to me, there is one that stands out because of her talent and service: Kiran Pasricha.
And, I have the privilege of recognizing her today with a special honor called the Peace through Commerce Award. But, I want to say a few words before I present the medal.
(Peace through Commerce Award Presentation)
As many of you know, Kiran took over CII’s North America Desk in 1993. Two years later, she established its U.S. office in Washington, DC. Back then, India was often overlooked as a partner in the global economy. In the early days, she couldn’t get her calls answered.
One time she did get through, but only because the caller thought she was from the CIA, not the CII. But, it wasn’t long before everyone was taking Kiran’s call.
People often talk about how the economic bonds between the U.S. and India have grown over the years. Well, Kiran was at the heart of this work. From the halls of government to the boardrooms, she was always out there — advocating, educating, pushing for progress.
Her efforts were key to initiatives like the India Business Forum and the U.S. – India Strategic Dialogue. She also helped launch CII’s congressional program. She’s done it all.
I could stand here and recite all her accomplishments for hours. But, her work can’t be measured by her résumé alone. The true measure of her impact is the friends she’s made, the lives she’s touched and the good she’s done for others.
She has been a force for positive change in Washington and beyond. But, through the years, her heart never left India. So, earlier this year, she returned home.
We miss her in DC. But, her lasting contributions will never be forgotten. That’s why I want to recognize her today with this Peace through Commerce Medal. Now, to give you some background: the purpose of the award is to honor those who significantly promote and develop U.S. exports. This award was discontinued for a few years, but it has a storied history.
It dates back to the first Secretary of State —Thomas Jefferson — who commissioned the medal in 1790. Jefferson presented the award — then known as the Diplomatic Medal — as a gift to foreign diplomats who aided the Continental Congress during the American Revolution.
Well today, the revolution isn’t happening on the battlefield; it’s happening in the global economy, in the way we work and do business.
Our international partnerships are more important than ever. That’s why I relaunched the award this year. I wanted to recognize our partners abroad.
And, Kiran has been a tremendous partner, which is why we are honoring her today. In recognition of her work and contributions, it is a privilege to present this Peace through Commerce Medal to Kiran Pasricha.
Kiran? (Ms. Paricha accepted the award)
Let me say once again how great it is to be here, and how much the Commerce Department values our relationship with CII.
I thank you for your contributions to the friendship between the U.S. and India. It’s a friendship based on mutual respect, common values and a shared reverence for freedom.
On behalf of the Obama Administration, it’s a pleasure to work with you to make these ties even stronger. There are a lot of possibilities.
So much has happened since 1991, when then Finance Minister Singh initiated a host of reforms. India has become one of the stars of the global economy. In the past decade alone, India has grown an average of 7 percent each year. It’s an incredible success story. And, make no mistake: the United States welcomes your emergence.
In fact, we’re proud to have played a role in India’s development. From 2000-2010, our total direct investment in India rose more than tenfold; it’s now roughly $27 billion. And, last year, bilateral trade in goods reached nearly $49 billion.
Still, there is room for considerable growth. Consider that India is just our 17th largest export market. That ranks behind partners like Australia and Taiwan. Clearly, we have only just begun to unlock the potential of our commercial partnership. So, let’s work together to reach this promise.
We can meet this aspiration through collaboration. In the past 20 years, we’ve done big things. Now, let’s use the next 20 years to do even better.
Today, I want to focus on three goals:
One: Investing in the industries of the future.
Two: Generating inclusive growth that provides opportunities to all citizens.
And three: Working together to shape an environment conducive to economic growth.
Let me start by focusing on promising industries. As we all know, we gather today at a critical moment. From New Delhi to New York, our citizens face many challenges.
Two of the biggest are the economy and the environment. On the economic front, in the United States, we are still feeling the effects of the financial crisis. And, although 2.6 million jobs have been created in the last 19 months, far too many people are still out of work.
Here in India, there are causes for concern as well. You are seeing lower growth projections and declining inward investment.
And, despite all the advances in the past two decades, 800 million of your citizens still earn less than two dollars a day. Then, we have the environmental challenges to our planet. Climate change poses a threat to all of our futures.
And, as the world population grows, these threats grow as well, unless, of course, we take action.
Fortunately, there is a booming and dynamic industry that can benefit both the health and wealth of our citizens: Clean technology.
President Obama is a big supporter of clean energy. Over the past two and a half years, his administration has made the largest investments in this sector in our Nation's history.
This creates jobs, supports the development of innovative technologies, helps us reduce our dependence on foreign oil and curtails harmful pollution.
The investments also keep the United States on track to achieving the President’s goal of doubling renewable energy capacity by the end of 2012. I know that India has its own goals.
The National Solar Mission aims to produce 20 gigawatts of solar power by 2022. And, CII has shown tremendous leadership in this space, as is exemplified by the Green Business Centre in Hyderabad.
So, good things are happening in both countries when it comes to this industry of the future. Now, we’ve got to find ways to build this future together.
We’re off to a good start thanks to the leadership of President Obama and Prime Minister Singh.
Both have reaffirmed their commitment to the Partnership to Advance Clean Energy —otherwise known as PACE. The goal is simple — to improve energy access and promote low-carbon growth through the research and deployment of clean energy technologies.
By investing in R&D today, we can ensure we are leading the global economy of tomorrow.
As part of PACE, the United States and India have proposed starting a Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center. It will mobilize $25 million in Department of Energy funding.
Over five years, the research and development will focus on areas like building efficiency, solar energy and advanced biofuels.
It’s the first venture of its kind that the Energy Department has undertaken with a foreign government, demonstrating how much we value our partnership with India.
In addition to PACE, the Administration, through investment, has supported India’s drive for a cleaner future. Specifically, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation have invested hundreds of millions in solar projects in this region.
I’m happy that representatives from these two agencies are here with us today. These commitments are important.
But, we also need partnership in the private sector to fulfill this promise. U.S. companies and Indian companies have their strengths. They all have something unique to offer. So, it just makes sense for them to work together. That’s why I’m here today.
I’m leading a trade delegation of U.S. companies who are focused on a variety of clean technologies. These industries will provide economic and environmental benefits to Indian citizens — in both rural and urban areas.
It’s my hope that all of you will have a chance to meet these company representatives, learn about each other, and eventually work together to build a cleaner more prosperous tomorrow.
It’s also my hope that, as we look to the future, a significant effort will be put forth to ensure that this prosperity reaches everyone.
Too often these days, the focus of global economic development is on big cities. That focus is too narrow. There are other communities that may be smaller, but offer big opportunities.
Here in India, small and medium sized-cities have often been overlooked. Yet, they have contributed significantly to the economic boom. And, they will play an increasingly important role.
Consider the numbers: In 20 years, 68 cities in India are expected to have populations over 1 million.
This is a huge opportunity for all companies. We’ve got to harness this potential, and put the infrastructure in place to support this growth.
That’s why we’ve launched an initiative called GEMS — which stands for Growth in Emerging Sectors. Many of you know about it. CII co-sponsored the first GEMS conference with me in Pune last year, which was a great success.
To keep the momentum going — later today — I’ll be meeting with the Chief Ministers and Energy Secretaries of five states surrounding New Delhi.
The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce is hosting this roundtable. We’ll be discussing their energy and clean technology needs. We recognize that India is full of different perspectives and opinions. Each state has different goals and different policy environments. And connecting with each of them will benefit our work.
I’ll be traveling to Hyderabad tomorrow to highlight the significant role that areas outside of New Delhi and Mumbai play in India’s economic growth.
And, on Wednesday, I’ll be taking part in the 2nd Annual GEMS conference. It’s again supported by CII. This is important work. We can’t truly move forward as partners if so many are left behind. Together, we want to bring unprecedented growth to underserved areas.
There are clearly a lot of opportunities for collaboration. But, in order to seize them, we encourage India to address concerns many have about their business environment.
In particular, there is increasing concern about some recent actions that seem to tilt the playing field here in India away from U.S. businesses and other foreign firms. Let me say up front that the U.S. Government very much wants to align ourselves with India’s domestic goals.
And, we want India to succeed. But my concern is that many of the policies designed to protect Indian industries will only hurt them in the end.
I’m talking about recent policy directives and proposals that limit India’s markets in order to develop domestic manufacturing capacity. For example, in clean-tech, local content requirements (LCRs) explicitly discriminate against imports.
In effect, LCR’s deny Indian entities from accessing quality solar products from outside of the country. We get what India is trying to do. It wants to support its companies and develop a stronger manufacturing capability.
But, in the end — with the path India appears to be following — it’s going to miss out on some innovative products. It’s going to hinder its growth. And, that results in missed opportunities. The U.S. has open markets; foreign companies have come in and built businesses and changed industries. In doing so, they’ve created jobs for people in their home country and the United States. They’ve produced innovative products that American consumers have loved.
And, this has benefited our economy because competition encourages American companies to be innovative. Additionally, these products put American people to work and generate growth.
So, free and fair trade is a win — for all parties. But, I know we aren’t going to agree on everything. We bring to the table different experiences and perspectives.
But, we can’t let these disagreements divide us. Instead, we should always try to find the common ground that benefits the common good.
We’ve done that in a number of ways. For example, tomorrow, I will co-chair a Commercial Dialogue with my counterpart, Commerce Secretary Khullar. The dialogue will bring together the U.S. and Indian governments and private sectors to talk about best practices.
Our goal is to create a level playing-field and improve the competitiveness of both U.S. and Indian companies in the global market. We want success to be determined by the best product with the best price.
And these meetings with government and business leaders provide a forum for all sides to share their thoughts. And, if our history together is any indication, we will find a resolution.
That’s what close partners and friends do: They solve problems together and move forward.
They talk openly and honestly; and these frank conversations lead to solutions that work for both sides.
So, as we look ahead and get ready for the future, I’m confident that we will both work in partnership and stay true to our old values of democracy, community and opportunity.
Our citizens aspire to be able to start businesses or obtaining meaningful employment. Through collaboration, we can.
Our citizens aspire to help build their communities. Through collaboration, we can.
In fact, we have — for many years. Let’s keep it going.
And, together, we can ensure that the next 20 years – and beyond - are worthy of both our countries’ greatest traditions.
Again, I want to thank the CII for the opportunity to speak.
My thanks to all of you for listening today.
I’d be happy to take any questions.
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