Trade

Recent purchases by SpiceJet and Jet Airways of Boeing aircraft underscore that aviation and its related industries are always areas of massive potential, said Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells. Seen above: Spicejet chairman Ajay Singh (l) and Raymond L. Conner (r), vice-chairman of Boeing, at a press conference in New Delhi on Jan. 13, 2017. (Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Even as the Trump administration is seeking to reduce its trade imbalance with India, a senior American diplomat has said that India's middle class offers major opportunities for U.S. exports.

The Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells said that there is extraordinary economic potential of the Indian market.

The emergence of 350 million middle class consumers will drive Indian growth and will also offer major opportunities for U.S. exports, she said addressing a gathering of the U.S. India Business Council.

"Emerging middle-class consumers will have new demands in areas such as education, health care, and financial and professional services – fields where U.S. companies have much to offer. And U.S. agricultural technology and projects can contribute to a diversified nutritional profile that can do much to advance public health in India," she said.

Recent purchases by SpiceJet and Jet Airways of Boeing aircraft underscore that aviation and its related industries are always areas of massive potential, she said, adding that another area of great promise is the energy sector.

India is the third largest energy consumer in the world after China and the United States and will remain one of the largest energy consumers for decades, she noted.

Just last month, Indian companies began to increase their purchases of U.S. crude oil, and Indian firms are also turning to U.S. liquefied natural gas to meet demands to diversify supplies. And India’s state gas utility, for example, signed a 20-year supply agreement with U.S. LNG producer Cheniere Energy and has already taken delivery of multiple shipments of gas, she said.

"Many have questioned how Make America Great here and Made in India can be compatible, and indeed, we do need to do more to balance the U.S. trade deficit with India, which totaled nearly $30 billion last year," Wells said.

"Yet the developments I cited are powerful examples of the vast complementarity of our economy. Rising standards of living in India will drive demand for U.S. products, services, and energy that can help Indians live healthier and more productive lives. And that will in turn create more growth in India," Wells told the audience.

"We know this is a lot of work to get this done right, and we're willing to rely on the counsel and the partnership of the business community as we work with our Indian counterparts to realize the promise of this economic relationship," she said.

The State Department is now working closely with USTR and the Commerce Department to address their concerns, including tariff and non-tariff barriers, subsidies, liberalization policies, restrictions on investment, and intellectual property concerns that limit market access.

"We’re committed to a trade relationship that promotes prosperity in both our countries by ensuring that it’s fair and reciprocal," she said. 

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