Washington: A top Indian official urged US companies on Thursday to jump on board India’s rapid growth and help it expand its manufacturing base.
“I would like American businesses and Indian industry to come together to make India a manufacturing hub and one of the workshops of the world,” commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said in a speech to a business group.
Toward that end, India is issuing a new foreign investment policy document on 31 March and a new manufacturing policy document “before the fall,” he said.
Sharma’s speech came one day after he and US trade representative Ron Kirk signed a framework agreement aimed at boosting bilateral trade and investment flows.
The pitch also comes when high US employment and competitive pressures from China already have many US lawmakers worried about America’s manufacturing base. The outsourcing of call-center and other service sector jobs to India has also raised concerns.
US President Barack Obama, who hosted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House in November 2009, is expected to visit India in summer or early fall, Indian ambassador to the United States Meera Shankar told the business group.
US exports to India have grown rapidly in recent years and remained relatively strong last year, even as the global economic crisis took a toll on world trade.
The United States exported about $16.5 billion worth of goods to India in 2009, down about 7% from 2008, compared with a 15% drop in total exports.
US imports from India plunged 17.5% last year to about $21.2 billion, but that was less than the 23.3% overall drop in imports last year.
Still, the $37.7 billion in trade between the United States and India last year was roughly 1/10th of the trade between the United States and China.
Also, US business investment in India totaled only about $13.6 billion through 2007, compared with $28.3 billion in China and $101.6 billion in Japan.
India is creating national investment and manufacturing zones to attract more foreign interest, he said.
The first will be in Rajasthan, alongside the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor, he said.
“We want these manufacturing zones to be incubators of new innovations and new technologies,” Sharma said.