Washington: A top American lobbying group which represents the strong manufacturing sector in the US has changed its anti-India stand stating the Narendra Modi-led government offers hope and optimism for Indo-US ties.
“Manufacturers in the US are optimistic that we have before us an important opportunity to put the US–India economic relationship back on track,” Jay Timmons, president and CEO, National Association of Manufacturers said.
Calling for a dialogue with India, he said, manufacturers throughout the US want to see a stronger and more robust Indian economy and to work with businesses in India on a range of issues, from growing innovation and skills to improving participation in global supply chains.
“By working together on trade, investment and other issues, we can grow both our economies in a fast-paced and globally connected world economy,” he told a Washington audience.
“NAM stands ready to work together with the Indian government and the Indian business community to share its experiences and best practices, as well as work with the US Congress and trade representatives”, he added.
“We also recognise we can learn from India. But for this partnership to succeed, India needs to be prepared to embrace this opportunity for constructive dialogue and develop a business climate that promotes competitiveness and innovation,” Timmons said, adding that the coming weeks and months will be pivotal to India’s path and the direction of our bilateral relationship.
NAM along with the US Chamber of Commerce last year had launched an Alliance for Fair Trade with India and was instrumental in more than 200 lawmakers including powerful Senators and Congressmen from both the parties , writing to the US President, against Indian trade policies.
It had gone to the extent of describing India as an “outlier in the international” community and as late as February, March this years had urged the US Trade Representatives to declare designate India a Priority Foreign Country, a status reserved for those nations that are the most egregious violators of IP rights and have the most negative impact on US competitiveness abroad.
However, yesterday NAM refuted allegations that its actions last year were anti-India.
“This (AITF) was not and is not an anti-India group,” Linda Dempsey, co-chair of AITF and NAM vice president of international affairs, told PTI.
“To the contrary, the NAM and our members created AFTI to push for the development of a stronger and more robust business and economic relationship with India.
To do so, as Timmons’s and my remarks has reinforced that the two countries must talk about key trade and investment issues and work together to solve them,” Dempsey said.
In his address to a Washington audience, Timmons said while manufacturers in the United States, Europe and elsewhere have participated in the global economy, unfortunately, India has increasingly moved away from engagement.
He also said, “In the past few years, India’s much lauded reforms of the early 1990s became retrenchment that has not only undermined US–India commercial relations, but also India’s own manufacturing economy and its ability to grow economic partnerships around the world.
India has been out of step not only with America, but also with much of the rest of the world,”.
India’s recent elections, however, offer hope that the world’s largest democracy may embark on a new era of reform and economic openness, he asserted.
“The election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a significant victory, one that may very well provide India its best chance to prosper in more than half a century and put India on the path of realising its potential and that of its 1.2 billion people,” he said.
“With an outright majority in parliament, Modi and his cabinet have an unprecedented opportunity to promote reform and growth throughout India.
Winning an outright majority in India is no small feat, especially when you consider that India’s 814 million voters had candidates from some 1,600 political parties from which to choose,” Timmons said.
“If the new government seizes the momentum its election has created and implements needed economic reforms, reforms with respect to trade, investment and innovation, both Indians and Americans will win.
Already, Prime Minister Modi has shown his action orientation, issuing a 10-point plan for reform and seeking 100-day agendas from each of his cabinet colleagues,” said the NAM president.
Modi’s record, he stressed, demonstrates that he understands the importance of attracting investment and promoting business-led economic growth.
His tenure as Gujarat chief minister displayed his concrete and effective perseverance in putting in place policies that fostered economic competition and investment, education and skills development of its workers, he noted.
“And while much of the new government’s focus will be on the domestic economy, Modi’s victory is a vital moment for US and Indian leadership to chart a new path forward in our bilateral relationship,” Timmons said.
Noting that the India-US Trade Policy Forum has not met since 2010, he said the next meeting needs to be scheduled soon take place soon and engage economic leaders from both of the countries.
“This is a key signal that can easily be undertaken by the Modi government. We and our trading partners around the world will be watching to see if the new Indian government truly wants a more constructive path going forward,” he said.
Timmons acknowledges that India and the United States won’t see eye to eye on every issue.
“That’s not unusual.It must, however, become normal in the US–India relationship to talk about those differences and work through them, not avoid or ignore them,” he said.
“If India chooses the path of dialogue, reform and full engagement with the global economy, there are many areas where manufacturers believe that collaboration is possible,” Timmons said.