India and the US today pledged to further strengthen economic cooperation and increase engagement in the oil and energy sector with a view to boost bilateral trade
Singapore: India and the US on Wednesday pledged to further strengthen economic cooperation and increase engagement in the oil and energy sector with a view to boost bilateral trade.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US Vice President Mike Pence had “productive discussions on all aspects of global strategic partnership based on growing convergence of interests on regional and global issues" on the sidelines of East Asia Summit here, Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said.
Later briefing reporters, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said it was a “very good" meeting.
The two sides had brief discussion on trade-related matters.
In a statement, Pence’s office said he encouraged “free, fair, and reciprocal trade with India." “We agreed that in a new relationship we are building with the US where trade is expanding, we need to find ways in which we can help that process to take place," Gokhale said.
The prime minister said that in the last 2 years — since President Donald Trump has assumed office —American exports to India have grown 50% and it is perhaps the only one of the top 10 countries with which the US has a trade deficit, and the deficit has actually reduced last year and is on course to further reduce this year, Gokhale said.
“There was a lot of discussions on energy. This is a new sector in Indo-US relations. We have begun importing oil and gas from the US worth about $4 billion this year. We expressed our readiness to import more oil and gas from the US as a way of expanding our trade," he said.
The defence sector was another area of cooperation between the two sides. “Both sides agreed that there had been a substantial enhancement in our defence relationship, in our imports of equipment from the US, but the prime minister in particular stressed that there was a great opportunity for the US in India in making defence equipment and setting up defence industry in India. “Not only that India is a substantial market but because the way we are placed regionally we can become a hub for exports to the rest of the region," Gokhale said.
Modi said when Indians come to the US, they not only bring their talent and capacity to innovate, capacity to excel but also they are imbued with democratic values. “And in that context the Prime Minister expressed hope that this would be the approach that US might take when it looks at the whole issue of the H-1B visa," Gokhale said.
Pence acknowledged that India had made substantial progress economically as well as diplomatically in regional and international affairs, Gokhale said.
Pence felt that India is a positive factor in regional and international relations and said the US looks forward to working with India on various issues to ensure that “we have a fair rules-based international order".
India-US bilateral trade was $74.5 billion in 2017-18, up from $64.5 billion in the previous year.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)
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