WASHINGTON, DC– Indian Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu visited United States on 10-12 June 2018 for meetings with his US interlocutors.
During the visit, he held discussions with the US Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
He also had a joint meeting with the India Caucus Co-chairs Senator Mark Robert Warner and Senator John Cornyn. The meetings were held in a friendly and cordial atmosphere, with appreciation for each other’s points of view.
Discussions centered around bilateral trade and commercial relations between the two countries and focused on finding the way forward to address concerns of both sides.
In this context, it was agreed that Indian and US officials would meet at a senior level at an early date to discuss various issues of interest to both sides and carry forward the discussions in a positive, constructive and result oriented manner.
During the visit, Mr. Prabhu also addressed business and industry leaders in meetings organized by US-India Business Council (USIBC) and US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) and held meetings with other stakeholders. In these meetings, Mr. Prabhu noted the encouraging growth in trade volumes through purchases of US-made civilian aircrafts by Indian companies and enhanced cooperation in the area of energy, including procurement of petroleum and LNG by India from the US.
He also pointed out that India’s rapid economic growth will create significant new market opportunities in these and other areas and added that these purchases have already led to reduction in bilateral trade deficit in 2017. Future sales will sustain this trend and create a balanced trade relationship between the two countries.
Minister Prabhu’s visit this week marked his second trip to the U.S. in his position as Minister of Commerce & Industries and Aviation. He previously visited Washington, D.C. in October 2017 for the US-India Trade Policy Forum, and USISPF hosted him for his only industry dialogue alongside the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meetings with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Commercial Dialogue meetings with the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Attendees of the roundtable at USISPF included senior industry officials from leading U.S. companies such as: Boston Scientific, FedEx, Walmart, Abbott, UTC, Honeywell, PhRMA, MoneyGram International, Lockheed Martin, Koch Industries, Amway, Uber, 21st Century Fox, and Medtronic, to name a few.
In his opening remarks, USISPF President and CEO, Mukesh Aghi, said “I just returned from India last week and the economy is growing at 7.7%. Almost every business leader I met with spoke about the visible pick up in consumption both in urban and rural sectors. It is very evident that some of the recent structural reforms put in place by this government are bearing fruit.”
The discussion with Minister Prabhu centered around the government trade agenda between now and the elections, the recently announced Ayushman Bharat health scheme, projects under the “Make in India” initiative and sector-specific questions in defense, fintech and media & entertainment.
In his remarks, Minister Prabhu stated that the government expects growth to remain strong for the rest of 2018, with possible GDP growth of 8% in 2019. He spoke about the improvements that have been made in the trade relationship, including trade deficit reduction and noted that, “Every great partnership has areas of agreement and disagreement. I’m hopeful that the U.S. investment corridor is only going to grow, and I’m confident that we will be able to bridge our gaps.”
Also joining the discussion was Ambassador Navtej Sarna, India’s Ambassador to the United States. In his remarks, Ambassador Sarna mentioned the strength in the India – US partnership, recently highlighted by several different bilateral dialogues, including the upcoming 2+2 dialogue late next month.