US wants to jointly build India’s indigenous defence eco-system: Envoy

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Kolkata, May 22 (IANS) Stating that defence-related sales from the US to India have increased from zero to $15 billion in the last 10 years, US Consul General in Kolkata Craig L. Hall on Tuesday said the US looks forward to jointly develop India’s defence infrastructure to further strengthen the ties between the two nations.

“The defence sales have increased dramatically from being zero 10 years ago, to $15 billion last year. But to further strengthen our ties we would like to jointly develop India’s indigenous defence eco-system which means developing and building materials together.

“One such example is the Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited (TBAL) in Hyderabad inaugurated in February last year,” Hall said at a session on ‘US-India Economic Relations’ at the Bharat Chamber of Commerce here.

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The envoy said Indo-US cooperation on defending counter-terrorism is one of the key pillars of the two countries’ partnership.

“US defence companies have already invested in India, producing components for complex defence system. The US goal is to seek to partner with India to expand its indigenous defence eco-system as well as enhance inter-operability of the two forces,” he pointed out.

Talking about possibilities in other sectors, Hall said the US is uniquely positioned to offer India a comprehensive energy partnership, which includes all forms of energy like coal, fuel, natural gas and nuclear and can also provide the technology and expertise to meet the demands of overloaded transmission and distribution to stabilise the power grids here.

“The US environmental technology can play a role in tackling India’s air pollution, energy efficiency and other challenges,” he said.

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Emphasising that the US is already India’s largest and most important trading partner and the country gets a large amount of foreign direct investments from the US, Hall said the bilateral trade has increased from $20 billion in 2001 to $125 billion last year.

However, he noted that the trade relationship is obstructed by certain policies of the Indian government including the high tariff rates on US imports items to India, market access restrictions on US-based dairy and poultry items and India’s decision to close its legal system to foreign law firms and the educational sector

“The US is also concerned about weak protection and enforcement of the intellectual property rights in India. Concerns remain over replications and other challenges to patents, particularly in agro-technology and pharma.

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“In pharma, the Indian government is setting price ceiling on drugs and medical equipment, which the US regards as a violation of IPR,” Hall added.

–IANS

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