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Indo-US trade likely to exceed $100 bn in 2012

Last updated on: August 27, 2012 16:42 IST

Indo-US trade likely to exceed $100 bn in 2012

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC

R
obert Blake, the Obama administration's point man for South Asia, has predicted that Indo-US trade is likely to exceed $100 billion this year.

 Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, keynoting the gala banquet on August 26, arranged by the Indian American community organisations of the Greater Washington Metropolitan region under the aegis of the National Council of Asian Indian Association to celebrate India's 65th anniversary of its independence, said, "As someone privileged to represent the United States in India from 2003 to 2006, I had the honor of twice attending the annual Independence Day address given by the Prime Minister from the ramparts of the great Red Fort in Delhi."

 "I was always moved by the pageantry, by the rich history this ceremony reflects, and by the memories of Pandit Nehru's famous 'Tryst with Destiny' speech."

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Blake said that "in many ways, the United States and India are fulfilling our own destinies now, as we cooperate even more closely together," and noted that "since India's independence, and most notably over the last decade, we have woven the tapestry of cooperation into one of the broadest and deepest bilateral relationships in the world."

"Today," he declared, "this is a relationship that knows no limits. On virtually every field of human endeavor, the United States and India are partnering to shape a more secure and prosperous environment not just in our two countries, but throughout the world."

Blake said, "That is why our two governments decided to elevate our partnership, when President Obama and Prime Minister Singh first came together and decided to create a Strategic Dialogue, the first session of which we held in June of 2009 - and it is a dialogue that's producing real results for the well-being and security of our two peoples."

 "To take but one example," the senior US diplomat said, "trade between our two countries is up 40 percent in just the last three years and it may exceed $100 billion this year."

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Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters

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But, Blake quoting his boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "The problems we face today will not be solved by governments alone. It will be in partnerships -partnerships with philanthropy, with global business, and partnerships with civil society."

"And that is where all of you, the incredible citizens of both our countries, have played such an important role," he told the audience of more than 300 people, which included India's Ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao, senior government of Maryland officials and state and local legislators, and scores of Indian American community leaders.

Blake said, "Today, we share with India a vibrant two-way exchange of entrepreneurs, academics, students, professors, and scientists, and so many others, that has come to serve as a model for others around the world."

"Our business ties have reshaped global commerce and our education and research partnerships are forging news paradigms of innovation," he added.

And, according to Blake, "The common thread - from the classrooms of Chennai and College Park to the boardrooms in Bangalore and Baltimore - is the passionate and committed Indian American community."

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Photographs: Reuters

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He pointed out that "one very new area of cooperation between our two countries is our effort to enhance US-India state-to-state and city-to-city dialogues," and explained that we have been working with Reta Jo Lewis, the Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs to foster greater political, economic, and cultural ties between our cities and states."

"Think of all the exciting economic growth and activity in Indian states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, and in American states like Maryland, California, New York and so many others," he said.

"All of these states act as laboratories of innovation and news partnerships that we should leverage to deepen the overall US-India partnership."

Recalling the visit of Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley to India last December, who was accompanied by several Indian American entrepreneurs and all three of the Indian American state legislators - House Majority Leader Kumar Barve, Sam Arora and Aruna Miller - Blake said that "upon his return to Annapolis announced nearly $60 million worth of new business deals for American companies."

He said the deals ranged from commitments to increase Indian imports at Maryland's harbours, to agreements for a Baltimore-based firm to help construct an amusement park in Mumbai.

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Photographs: Reuters

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Blake said another "very promising area that is strengthening our people to people ties is in higher education," and noted that "at this June's US-India Higher Education Dialogue, we announced eight new collaborative projects between Indian and American colleges and universities under the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative focusing on priority fields such a food security, climate change, sustainable energy, and public health."

"Likewise, the State Department's Passport to India Initiative is another way that we are promoting what Secretary Clinton called 'smart power'" he said, and explained that the goal of this program "is to significantly increase the number of Americans, particularly American students and interns, who visit India for a chance to study and learn. This is a very innovative public-private partnership that we are very excited about."

Blake said, "It all comes down to one thing - by building the next generation of leaders who are well versed in each other's culture, language and business, we will be better prepared to work together and resolve common challenges for the benefit of not only our two countries, but for the international community as a whole."

However, he said, "While we all are proud of the progress our two countries have made in our journey together, there is so much more we can do and we need all of your help and advice."

"This room alone is full of so much talent, as well as a unique and personal knowledge of both of our countries and that is a powerful combination," he said. "You know the United States and you know India and you know the limitless potential that exists when we get together."

Thus, Blake declared that "together, all of us working in concert can help shape one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century and, in the process, help transform the world."


Photographs: Reuters

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