United States envoy pitches for FTA with India

American envoy to India slams Pakistan says US looking to secure NSG membership for India

India can seize the opportunity to provide an "alternative investment hub" for American companies that are downgrading their operations in China, US Ambassador Kenneth Juster said on Thursday. "We welcome India's leadership with us in this venture - as partners bolstered by conviction and working with like-minded nations on a regional architecture to ensure that the Indo-Pacific - in the words of Secretary of State Tillerson - is increasingly a place of peace, stability, and growing prosperity, rather than one of disorder, conflict, and predatory economic policy", Juster said. "It will increase our economic interactions and volume of trade, lead to collaboration on emerging technologies, and create jobs in both countries", he said. "And we are working closely with India and our global partners to secure India's membership in the NSG", Juster said while adding the U.S., at the same time, has gone from a restrictive policy regarding the export of dual-use items to India to a much more liberal one. Washington's envoy to New Delhi added that a number of USA companies have reported increasing difficulties in conducting business in the largest market in the region, China.

On defence and counter-terrorism, Juster observed that both India and the United States have suffered "horrific terrorist attacks" and continue to be targeted.

He also said although bilateral trade has reached $115 billion in 2016 from $20 billion in 2001, there is still plenty of room to expand the flow of goods and services in both directions and, in the process, for trade to become more reciprocal.

The US government is planning a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India in an effort to boost two-way trade that now stands at $115 billion. "And we are working closely with India and our global partners to secure India's membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group", he said.

A major part of Juster's speech was on ways to enhance economic and commercial relations.

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"India is a leading power in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond".

"With regard to the H1B in particular, there were press articles last week that somehow people who had got H1B visas and were waiting for the green card have been told they have to go home.I think Washington has said that this is not under consideration in this review", Juster said in a bid to allay concerns that some 500,000 to 750,000 Indians waiting for their green cards could be asked to go back home.

"The US is a country of immigrants, and that's what helped drive our economy and our growth and made us what we are", Juster said.

"Pakistan is also important to situation in Afghanistan". On China and the new worldwide philosophy, Juster said, "Our strategy in the Indo-Pacific is an affirmative strategy. we want to have a constructive relationship with every country in the region. with mutual respect, that does not infringe on the sovereignty of other countries. we want to have a constructive relationship with the Chinese". "And that's not going to change".

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