US Lawmakers Call for Expanding India-US Economic Ties

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July 18, 2013

By Geeta Goindi

By Geeta Goindi

Washington, DC – While celebrating strides in the India-US strategic partnership, influential US lawmakers have called for more action and a working agenda to reinvigorate commercial ties.

July 18, 2013

By Geeta Goindi

By Geeta Goindi

Washington, DC – While celebrating strides in the India-US strategic partnership, influential US lawmakers have called for more action and a working agenda to reinvigorate commercial ties.

Congressman Ami Bear (Democrat – California) addressing the 38th annual ‘Leadership Summit’ of the US India Business Council (USIBC) in Washington

Addressing the 38th annual ‘Leadership Summit’ of the US India Business Council (USIBC), Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, Democratic Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, made it clear that while closer India-US ties call for celebration, “we also need to move ahead and get things done, those of us who want to strengthen and expand this most critical relationship.  It is important that we have a working agenda”, he emphasized.  “We want to make sure that this relationship is about strong democracies, but it is also about strong economic growth for both nations”.

The USIBC event drew trailblazers in business and industry, finance, government and public policy.  Among the featured speakers were: Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram; Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma; Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao; Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission; US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker; US Trade Representative Michael Froman; Congressmen Joseph Crowley (Democrat – New York), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, and Ami Bear (Democrat – California); Ron Somers, President of USIBC; Ajay Banga, Chairman of USIBC, President and CEO of MasterCard; industrialist Ratan Tata; David Cote, Chairman and CEO of Honeywell; and former ambassadors to India – Frank Wisner, Richard Celeste, Robert Blackwill, David Mulford and Timothy Roemer.  Some 350 distinguished guests attended the sold out evening reception with an overflow crowd.

Senator Warner told this gathering, “I am very proud of USIBC’s continuing role in developing strong ties between India and the United States.  This is, as the President said, a defining relationship for America in the 21st century”.

Warner credited the Indian government for taking a courageous move in allowing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.  The lawmaker was optimistic that India and the US will move forward on the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT).  “Both countries are reviewing their treaty obligations, which is a good sign”, he said.  Regarding the historic civilian nuclear agreement, he hoped that  progress will be made before Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s visit later this year.  The US administration is urging India to deliver on the commercial promise of the agreement between the two countries.

At the 38th annual ‘Leadership Summit’ of the US India Business Council (USIBC), in Washington, are seen from left to right: Congressmen Joseph Crowley (Democrat – New York), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans; Dr. V. Rangaraj, Advisor, Aditya Birla Group; and Raymond Vickery, Senior Director of the Albright Stonebridge Group

Congressman Crowley was vocal in extolling the Indian-American community.  “Whether I am in my home district in Jackson Heights or in Washington, I always feel at home particularly among my Indo-American friends in the community”, he said.  “And what a wonderful community it is, really doing remarkable things constantly, contributing vitally in so many important fields whether it is medicine, business, the arts, across the board, and politically as well”.

The lawmaker acknowledged that there are issues between India and the US on the economic front which must be resolved.  He told the gathering, “I know we have some difficult issues ahead of us, economically: business-to-business, government-to-business, government-to-government”.  But, he was upbeat and optimistic.  Raising a toast to the world’s largest democracies, he said, “Let us make this relationship the greatest relationship in the world today”!

Congressman Bear, whose parents emigrated to the US from Gujarat in 1958, told the gathering, “I am honored to represent the vibrant Indian-American community, a community that has made tremendous strides here in America”.

He mentioned that people often ask him if being Indian-American made it harder to get elected to Congress.  “The truth is, it is because I am Indian-American that I got elected to Congress”, he said.  The lawmaker attributed his achievements to the values that Indian-Americans are raised with – strong family and community ties, sacrifice and building for the next generation to make sure their children have a better future.  The value of work ethic “has made the Indian-American community such a successful community in America”, he said.

“That is why the relationship between the US and India is so personal to me and so important to me.  When people ask, what would you hope to accomplish in Congress?  (His reply is) It is taking the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy and building that partnership so that we can move forward as we move this world into the 21st century.  It is going to be a vitally important relationship.  It is a young relationship and it is exciting what the future holds.  The relationship is incredibly important to us both economically and geopolitically”, he stressed.

Congressman Crowley told the gathering, “I want to tell you how proud I am of Dr. Ami Bear.  He is my friend.  He is more like a brother these days.  Wherever I go, he’s there”, Crowley said, to laughter.

The lawmaker noted, “one thing that Ami is also concerned about is the furtherance of the commitment of the United States towards establishing even better relations with India.  It is something that I have a passion for as well”, he said.


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