Thank you for inviting me to speak today. It's a privilege to be here. There is a natural alliance between the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest democracy.
While President Bush's historic visit last March was a visible example of that priority, the ongoing shared values, commitment to democracy and enhanced engagement on all levels signifies the great importance of our partnership.
I know Deputy Secretary Sampson addressed this group earlier today. Our presence reinforces the commitment the Bush Administration has to strengthening the U.S. and India relationship. I've just returned from India and it was a wonderful and eye-opening experience.
During my visit I was struck by just how far India has come in a short time--the economic growth is incredible. It's no wonder global businesses and investment companies are clamoring to get into such a dynamic market:
Few markets are more exciting, or more significant than high tech. We appreciate your leadership and commitment to working with us to streamline the process as much as possible. We have made good progress on many fronts.
During my trip, I talked with government business leaders about opening India's market further, and forging ahead with a reform agenda to attract more investment and maintain the strong pace of growth.
Every country in the world is competing for capital. And capital will go to those markets that welcome investment.
It is fitting that I am addressing this audience so soon after my visit. The US-India Business Council should be congratulated for its role in fostering civilian nuclear cooperation, supporting our bilateral Commercial Dialogue, and performing a key role in this High-Technology Cooperation Group (HTCG).
When I met with Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal last week, he encouraged us to look at developing deeper ties between our private sectors in several key areas: space, energy, environmental technologies, disaster management and healthcare.
I challenge those of you here today to recommend practical commercial applications and solutions, so that we can, as Minister Sibal put it, "send a signal to the rest of the world."
This is very much in keeping with what Prime Minister Singh said to me that our partnership is based on pragmatism and principle.
Commerce Has Many Strategic Partnerships
The Commerce Department is working to enhance our commercial and strategic partnership. There are many opportunities for engagement, from oceans research to patents and trademarks.
Under Secretary Lavin recently led the U.S. government's largest business development mission ever--250 business people went to India in search of export opportunities.
Clean energy is one area in which we can partner for commercial and environmental success. In April, the Commerce Department will lead a Clean-Energy Technologies Trade Mission to India. The nuclear agreement is another example.
This group continues to be a key forum that delivers significant results. You've made an enormous contribution to advancing high-technology trade and collaboration, while strengthening our shared non-proliferation objectives.
This is an effective forum for our governments to discuss strategic trade issues, but it is also a unique partnership that gives business executives from both nations a chance to share ideas with senior government officials.
And this collaboration has delivered real results. Today, less than one percent of U.S. exports to India require an export license. That is truly remarkable if you consider that in 1999, 24 percent of total U.S. exports to India had to be licensed.
There is More We Can Do
We must continue to identify and remove obstacles to closer economic ties.
In a few months our "Trusted Customer" program for high-tech exports to India should be up and running. This will be a significant development for two reasons.
First, the Trusted Customer program will greatly facilitate high-tech trade. For some controlled dual-use high-tech products, no export licenses will be required. Customers who qualify for this program will have access to U.S. high technology products in a faster, more efficient, and more transparent manner.
Second--and perhaps more important--the new program shows the deep level of trust and cooperation we have for each other. Trust is absolutely vital in business.
There are other reforms--opening markets in sectors where obstacles remain, further reducing tariffs and getting tougher on enforcing IPR and protecting IP and pharmaceutical test data--that will benefit India's economy and consumers, while maintaining the current growth trajectory.
Our nuclear agreement was an historic step forward for both our countries. Civil nuclear cooperation will enhance energy security, while increasing trade and technological collaboration.
India is now the world's fifth-largest energy consumer. India's demand for electricity is expected to double by 2015. International civil nuclear cooperation is critical for India to meet its growing energy needs and environmental challenges.
U.S. businesses are ready and well-qualified to participate in India 's civil nuclear program. And the economic benefits will flow both ways between the United States and India.
Now that the U.S. Congress has approved the agreement--the next step is India's.
India will need to conclude a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency so that it can reach a bilateral agreement with the U.S .
Only after these agreements are concluded can the Nuclear Suppliers Group allow nuclear trade with India.
Given how far we have come, we hope India will fulfill its responsibilities and ensure U.S. companies are able to compete in India's expanding civil nuclear market.
While in New Delhi, I also reaffirmed our commitment to the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development. This effort was initiated by President Bush, Prime Minister Singh, and the leaders of Australia, China, Japan and South Korea.
In the next decade, India plans to add 100 gigawatts of new power, including bringing electricity to 18,000 remote villages. U.S. companies make world-class environmental technologies that can help India meet the needs of its rapidly growing economy, while reducing air pollution and enhancing energy security.
So, we're looking for good results to come from our upcoming trade development trip to India.
We Need Global Trade Cooperation: Doha
Our relationship has matured to the point where we can be honest and frank. In my meetings in India , I stressed the importance of India's full participation in the Doha round of global trade talks. Simply put: India's leadership is required to achieve an agreement.
India has a tremendous opportunity to play an active and positive role in pushing these talks ahead. We are willing to make difficult choices. But we have a shared responsibility to make the round a success.
We believe that getting an agreement as soon as possible is important. However, the real important objective is to get a good agreement.
In the U.S. we hope to continue on the track of opening more markets, and are working with the new Congress to renew President Bush's Trade Promotion Authority, which is currently set to expire at the end of June.
Conclusion--Partners for a Strong Future
We are proud to be India's partner and friend. Together we can enhance prosperity and improve the lives of all our citizens and make the world a better place.
Thank you very much.