India should be top priority for US: USIBC

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India should be a top priority for the US as it is the world's

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third-largest economy and is gaining traction in its economic recovery from the global recession, a top American trade advocacy group has said.

"There are many reasons India should be a top priority for US attention. India is the world's third-largest economy, gaining traction in its economic recovery from the global recession and hungry for American goods and services," US India Business Council (USIBC) president Ron Somers wrote in an op-ed for the Roll Call.

He said in the article that India is not only the world's third-largest economy but is also a stabilising force in a region known to be a "tough neighbourhood".

Somers said the US exports to India have grown 491 per cent in value since 2000 and bilateral trade now exceeds USD 100 billion, up from USD 25 billion when the then President George W Bush visited India in 2006.

"Bilateral investment and commercial ties are growing at double-digit rates. Ten of the top 15 IT companies operating in India are American," he wrote.

Noting that strategically India is a stabilising force in a region known to be a "tough neighbourhood" surrounded by Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Myanmar and China, Somers said the growing strategic partnership between India and the US encompasses cooperation in cyber security, higher education, clean energy, health care, environment, scientific research, space, and many other areas of mutual interest and concern.

Somers noted that the Indian government had made progress in market access, the tax environment and legislation to enable more foreign direct investment but there is more to be done in these areas along with fostering an environment that attracts innovation.

"In the US, the Senate passed an immigration bill that, if enacted into law, would seriously disrupt relationships between thousands of US companies and their long-standing IT services partners, many of which are based in India," he said.

"This would hurt US businesses, discourage further investments in the US and cost thousands of jobs for Americans," Somers said.

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