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US Ambassador To India Calls To Improve Bilateral Trade And Investment

The new US Ambassador to India has said that she will give priority to improving bilateral trade and investment as well as defense and counter-terrorism cooperation between the two countries.

In her first public speech since taking over as U.S. Ambassador to India, Nancy Powell told a meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in India in capital New Delhi on Friday that she believes the U.S.-India partnership "can deepen in every sense in coming years."

She called for negotiating a bilateral investment treaty and reducing barriers American businesses face in India's regulatory environment.

The US diplomat said that trade has grown impressively between the two countries in recent years, and there is scope for further increase, especially in defense, infrastructure, homeland security, nano-technology and bio-technology. U.S. goods exports to India have marked a seven-fold increase -- from $3 billion to $21 billion -- in the past 17 years, she added.

Powell said the Indian government's delay in opening sectors like retail, insurance and defense to further foreign investment have "dampened sentiment about India's investment climate."

She also noted U.S. concerns about tariff and non-tariff barriers and a new retroactive tax law, which causes hurdles in US-India business ties.

An experienced American diplomat who previously held similar posts in the region, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, Powell presented her credentials to India's president on Tuesday.

US top diplomat Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is set to tour India and Bangladesh next week. In New Delhi, she will meet with Indian government officials to review progress in the strategic partnership. The U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue is to be held in Washington, D.C. on June 13 and to be co-chaired by Clinton and her Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna. In Kolkata, Clinton is scheduled to meet state officials and other civil society organization representatives.

by RTT Staff Writer

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