Remarks by Franklin L. Lavin
Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade
USIBC-CII Joint Task Force on Commercial Nuclear Cooperation
June 26, 2007
- Thanks for the kind introduction Ron Summers. Great to be here with so many friends and colleagues from CII and the nuclear industry. I know many of you gathered here today, and I’m glad to be able to talk with you for a few minutes.
- When I was in India last December, our U.S. delegation was greeted with great warmth and cordiality by our Indian counterparts and we established a superb foundation for moving forward our working relationship on civilian nuclear technologies. I want to thank Dr. Kakodkar [Ka-COAT-Kar], Special Envoy Saran [Suh-RUN], and NPCIL Chair Jain, for their hospitality and friendship as we work to create a greater relationship and collaboration to benefit the industry and consumers in both our countries.
II. Good News –
Although there is much work to be done, I’m fundamentally optimistic. I’m encouraged by all of the good news in the relationship.
- Starting with President Bush’s and Prime Minister Singh’s meeting in India and their commitment to strengthening the bonds of friendship and cooperation between our nations
- Record trade numbers between our countries. Total bilateral trade with India in 2006 was $31.917 billion, +19.2 percent vs. the previous year
- Total U.S. exports to India in 2006 were over $10 billion . So far this year, our exports are growing at a strong rate of 24%
- Through forums like the Commercial Dialogue we are working together to reduce barriers to trade in key sectors
- Open skies agreement is creating more direct flights and increased travel.
- Education is another important area for collaboration. Our education ties are strong with over 76,000 students coming to the U.S. from India, more than from any other country. But, we welcome more Indian students. This year, Commerce has partnered with State on a multimedia educational project to increase awareness in India about U.S. higher educational opportunities.
- We look forward to providing our institutions of higher education with increased visibility in India, the number one place of origin for international students in the United States.
- Finally, with regard to the nuclear industry, I’m pleased to note that there is strong bi-partisan agreement in the United States for nuclear cooperation with India
III. Political/Regulatory Challenge
Of course, the most immediate challenge in front of us is on the political and regulatory front and you’ve heard from Ray Vickery on some of the hurdles that remain in front of us here.
From the press reports, issues surrounding fuel reprocessing rights and nuclear weapons testing are major and complex obstacles yet to be resolved. These are obviously important and complicated issues for both of our countries; and therefore, it is reasonable to expect that they pose some challenges to finalizing an agreement. We want to work with the Indians to resolve our differences and seal this historic deal that will benefit both countries as well as the nuclear energy industry. I’m optimistic that we can get to the finish line.
IV. Commercial Challenges
On the commercial front, we’re trying to take our commercial relationship to a new level of cooperation. The major challenge is that we are playing catch up. We do not have a long commercial history. If we can create a new, robust working partnership, the rewards will be substantial and will be well worth the hard work necessary to overcome our remaining challenges. Civil nuclear technology cooperation will benefit both of our countries as we work to meet the evolving energy needs of our people. With this in mind, I would like to convey two messages here today.
- First, I would like to send this message to the American side: If you want this business, you need to earn it. We have to work hard to be the vendor of choice for India. We need to put our best foot forward to prove our case for the business and demonstrate commitment to India.
To this end, I brought the largest business development mission in the history of the U.S. Government to India last year and we’re now planning with the U.S.-India Business Council, to bring a U.S. delegation to India in December.
- The second message is to the Indian side - we ask you to look hard at creating a new path forward and not just continue with established working patterns and relationships. India should be able to command the best in the world in regard to technology, terms, and service.
The United State nuclear industry frankly has more to offer the Indians than the competition. In addition to the superior technology and know-how, U.S. companies have a proven track record of true collaboration by successfully transferring technology and building and supporting local industries.
U.S. energy companies stand ready to partner with Indian companies, offering state-of-the art technologies coupled with unparalleled quality and services. There is no doubt that our world-class nuclear companies will meet the needs and expectations of India as it seeks to increase it nuclear energy generating capacity.
The Commerce Department is planning, with USIBC, a follow-up to last years India mission, which will likely feature a multi-city vendor conference where U.S. civil nuclear firms can grow relationships with potential Indian partner companies. Whereas the first mission focused largely on the U.S.-India agreement, and on clarifying India’s intent in regard to increasing its nuclear power supply, this vendor conference will focus on trade and investment details. This event will provide an opportunity for U.S. and Indian companies to address important infrastructure, supply chain, workforce, finance, and other issues critical to making informed investment decisions. Specific dates have not been established yet for the follow-up mission, but we are looking toward the end of this year.
V. Conclusion – Indian Moment
So, let us work together. We want to help you. Let’s do more together. The more we can do to strengthen and build the bonds that already exist between us the better off we will all be.
In conclusion, let me return to the question that I posed when I addressed CII in New Delhi last December. This question remains in front of us today: Is India on a long-term path of reform or are we simply looking at “the Indian moment?” Will the Indian reforms continue and economic outreach broaden, or will India pull back? The Indian people and their government will answer this question.
The United States supports India’s reform efforts, and we want to see both of our economies continue to expand and improve. What I would like to see is for every Indian company to have as much access to the American market as possible, and for every American company to have as much access to this market as possible. I know that American nuclear companies have much to offer to Indian customers, and I’m hopeful that we will realize the enormous opportunity that presents itself to both our countries and industries.
For years, Indians have told me that they want to do business with Americans and are just waiting for the right opportunity. To them I say: Your wait is over. Your opportunity is today. We are prepared to work with you, and we are ready to be your partner in a world that is getting smaller and is within reach right now.