For Immediate Release: June 5, 2008
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, it is an honor to be with you this evening, and to have the opportunity to share with you the U.S. view of the U.S.-India high technology future -- a future that is more real, more challenging, more possible, more promising, and more important today than ever before.
Before going further, I would like to begin by saying "thank you."
Thank you to Ambassador Sen for his devoted efforts on behalf of this bilateral relationship and for his partnership and friendship in this endeavor;
Thank you to Ambassador Celeste and former Under Secretary Juster for their constructive efforts in public and private life to add depth and ballast to this relationship;
And, finally, thank you to the joint Pacific Council-FICCI Task Force for its vision and diligent work. Your ability to identify and frame the salient issues and to draw together the key stakeholders in government, the private sector, and the academy is a remarkable testament to the strength of this Task Force and to your commitment to this bilateral relationship.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the U.S-India high technology relationship has the potential to do for the global innovation economy, what Silicon Valley did for our own. It is also not an exaggeration to say that this high technology future has within it, the greater potential to make the lives of our people both more prosperous and more secure.
When President Bush met Prime Minister Singh at the White House in 2005, the President challenged us to build upon our strong bilateral relationship to expand our economic ties and to lay the foundation of peace and prosperity for our children and grandchildren.
Ladies and gentlemen, while we have made substantial progress over the past three years, this still remains our common task. And if we are to fully realize all of the benefits of our growing bilateral relationship, then we -- particularly, those of us in government -- need to move faster, go farther, and work harder on its behalf.
The strength of today’s U.S. and India relationship is real, and underscores what visionary governments can accomplish for their people by acknowledging change and seizing opportunities. Shared interests and values, and improved economic and trade relations, have transformed the U.S.-India bilateral relationship into a "strategic partnership." And while tender points remain, the DNA of our partnership is more differentiated, healthy, and resilient than ever before.
Of the many dialogues that nurture our bilateral economic relationship, few have been as vibrant or had as much impact as the U.S.-India High Technology Cooperation Group (HTCG).
The HTCG was formed in 2002 by then Under Secretary Juster and Indian Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal to provide a standing, joint public and private sector framework for promoting U.S.-India high technology trade and investment. And over the years, the HTCG has been remarkably successful in this charge by addressing in a concrete way a wide range of related issues.
Since the HTCG’s founding in 2002, U.S. exports to India in advanced technology products have risen steadily and sharply. In 2007, U.S. exports to India totaled $17.6 billion. Notably, $8.1 billion worth -- or 46% of total exports -- consisted of high-tech goods.
In the area of dual-use trade alone, the HTCG has led to a dramatic -- but appropriate -- decline in the percentage of items that require a license from the Department of Commerce to be exported to India. In 1999, 24% of total U.S. exports to India (by value) required a license. Today, that figure is approximately 0.2%. And of the 0.2% that still require a license, over 90% of those requests are approved, and are approved within processing times comparable with those of our closest trading partners.
Going forward, we want to repeat this success across the high technology space more broadly. For this reason, we believe that the HTCG should continue to evolve to keep pace with new opportunities in a dynamic, global technology market.
The 6th Annual HTCG
In February, I had the honor to co-chair the 6th annual HTCG meetings in Delhi with Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon. At this HTCG, we focused on four specific industry areas that we felt held particular promise for our future high-tech relationship:
While I cannot go into a great detail here, I want to summarize some of what was accomplished this past February.
In the biotech and life sciences area, our governments agreed on goals and specific deliverables in the areas of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. One significant achievement was the establishment of a long-term goal for government to government cooperation to support comprehensive life science capacity building. In this regard, our governments also agreed to support regulatory harmonization in the areas of medical devices, pharmaceuticals, biologics, and biotechnology with the ultimate objective of improving market access.
In the biotech area specifically, the industry recommendations were so numerous that we will continue substantive discussions on the margins of the BIO 2008 conference to be held in San Diego in just a few days. In the area of pharmaceuticals, we continue to make progress on anti-counterfeiting efforts, and to discuss with our Indian counterparts how our governments can best work together to assist in the formation of an FDA-type central drug authority in India.
In the nanotechnology area, our governments agreed to jointly support R&D for public-private partnerships in targeted areas that support critical public goods, such as water treatment and potable water, environment and climate change, energy storage and generation, and health care. We also committed to work more vigorously to address intellectual property rights (IPR), export control, and customs duties issues to help promote nanotechnology cooperation. Finally, we agreed to support collaborative research through exchange visits, technical meetings, workshops, and educational activities. In this area, the principle challenge going forward will be to ensure that there continues to be industry-to-industry collaboration, and that the appropriate government stakeholders continue to be engaged in these issues.
In the IT area, our governments made relatively less progress. Tax, customs, and visa issues continue to be nettlesome, and our governments have committed to address them at other fora, such as the Indo-U.S. Economic Dialogue, Information and Communications Technology Working Group (ICTWG), and Trade Policy Forum (TPF). On a more positive note, there was agreement to seize significant IT opportunities in the areas of encryption, advanced electronics and software, and high performance computers at future iterations of the HTCG.
In the defense and strategic trade area, our governments agreed that, as a matter of principle, trade in defense and strategic goods should reflect the transformed nature of the U.S.-India strategic partnership. The United States committed to holding further discussions on licensing requirements for India, including with respect to such issues as the Entity List and the Commerce Control List, while India agreed that greater defense trade should be an important aspect of future bilateral relations.
One broader initiative that we think will have a further positive impact in the strategic trade area is the new Validated End-User (VEU) program. This U.S. program -- which is entirely voluntary -- will allow qualified companies in India to import U.S. controlled technology under a general authorization instead of having to apply for individual licenses. In certain sectors such as advanced electronics, aerospace and life sciences, we believe VEU can make a significant impact. We know there is interest in this program, and we look forward to working with companies in India to make this program a long-term success.
Finally, the United States believes that we should expand our high-tech cooperation to the civil aviation sector as well. India’s civil aviation industry has sustained double-digit growth in domestic and international air travel. Significant increases in imports are driving this growth, with India importing a majority of its aerospace products. As India moves up the technology ladder, the United States can play an important role. The United States wants to be a key partner with India in this sector, and so we have proposed a new working group in the HTCG devoted specifically to civil aviation. The Indian Government has indicated that it will need to consider this proposal, and we look forward to further discussions on this issue.
All of this is not to suggest that we can become complacent about our high-tech relationship, much less that our work is done. In fact, our successes should raise the bar for what we hope to accomplish for the future.
That is why I am pleased to report that Foreign Secretary Menon and I have directed our teams to meet regularly throughout the year -- in addition to our annual plenary session -- to ensure that we are executing, not merely making policy statements.
But even as we tend to our technology relationship, we need to also remain mindful of our broader economic relationship, particularly since success across the entirety of this relationship will lead to more -- and more durable -- benefits for our people, and for our partnership.
The U.S-India partnership has now flourished and grown stronger for the better part of a decade. And it has grown strongest and fastest, when our two nations have stood together to address the particularly difficult issues.
As we stand here on the cusp of a new chapter in U.S.-India relations, I’m confident that, with your continuing input and assistance, the U.S.-India partnership will continue to grow stronger for years to come.
In closing, I want to thank all of you, once again, for your efforts, and for your hospitality and kind attention this evening.