Jaitley urges US firms to invest in India towards $500 bn trade

New Delhi, Sep 14 (IANS) Ahead of the first India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (SACD) in Washington later this month, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday invited American business to invest in India towards realising the target of quintupling bilateral trade.

“Today, our ambitions are very high, to increase of bilateral trade five-fold over the current levels,” he said at the 11th economic summit here organised by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce.

“Both India and the US are natural allies, both democracies. While the US has the financial capital and advanced technology, India has a large body of trained manpower, natural resources and a large market,” he added.

India is the second largest source of foreign direct investment in the US, and the largest in Britain, the minister added. India-US trade currently has an annual turnover of $100 billion.

Jaitley said that ensuring a predictable taxation regime in India and improving ease of doing business “are works in progress”, while efforts have been made to evolve a very “fair” taxation regime.

The minister said declining oil and other commodity prices in this phase of global financial turmoil have helped India as the country is a net importer of commodities.

US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s forthcoming visit to the US, especially to San Francisco and the Silicon Valley, has generated a lot of excitement as he will be the only second Indian prime minister to visit California after Jawaharlal Nehru.

Modi will also visit Facebook headquarters in California, the social networking site’s co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Sunday.

Noting that a decade ago, the US and India did very little defence trade, the envoy said his country has signed around $10 billion worth defence sales contracts with India.

“Our defence cooperation has helped promote India’s role as a security provider in the Indian Ocean region, with direct benefit to third countries,” he said.

“Now we are taking the security partnership to a new level as we embark on co-development and co-production of defence technologies,” he said.

Verma also noted that according to a recent survey of 100 Indian companies in the US, “91,000 jobs were created and $15 billion has been invested in the US”.

“Indian companies collectively have a geographical footprint in every state in the nation,” he said.

During his June visit to the US, Jaitley had sought to allay concerns of American investors on retrospective tax demands.

In an interaction at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, he said: “I have no difficulty in saying that any decision which is retrospective, except in some very unusual circumstances, which creates fresh liabilities is certainly not acceptable.

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