President Barack Obama on Nov. 6 unveiled $10 billion in trade deals with India, seeking a U.S. jobs dividend from a fast-rising economy he hailed as one of humanity's most stunning achievements. Weaving a fulsome parable of India's emergence and potential in a speech to U.S. and Indian business executives, Obama also announced a reform of U.S. export regimes and rejected caricatures of India as a nation of "call centers."
Several blue-chip U.S. companies concluded deals in the hours before Obama flew into India's commercial hub, Mumbai, to launch a nine-day trip to Asia, as the White House seeks an economic pay-off from his foreign policy.
Boeing reached a preliminary $4 billion deal with the Indian air force to sell 10 C-17 Globemaster transport planes, which will support an estimated 22,160 jobs. The aviation giant also did a deal with India's SpiceJet airline, to supply 30 737 aircraft, while GE was selected by India to negotiate a deal to supply engines to light combat aircraft, which will support 4,440 jobs.
"These are just a few of the more than 20 deals being announced today, totaling more than $10 billion in U.S. exports," Obama said. "Today's deals will lead to more than 50,000 jobs in the United States -- everything from hi-tech jobs in southern California to manufacturing jobs in Ohio."
The president described the tie-up between the United States and India as one of the "defining and indispensable partnerships of the 21st Century."
"The United States sees Asia and especially India as a market of the future. We don't simply welcome your rise as a nation and a people, we ardently support it. We want to invest in it. "The sheer size and pace of India's progress in just two decades is one of the most stunning achievements in human history, this is a fact."
Obama pointed to common aspirations, reverence for democracy and dynamic populations shared by India and the United States, and offered a veiled reference to their shared former status as colonial wards of Britain. He also warned it was time for some Americans to dispense with "old stereotypes" about India simply being a "land of call centres and back offices that cost American jobs" and for Indians to stop seeing U.S. firms as a threat.
Obama also argued that India must take steps to make its own economy more receptive to U.S. goods, as he seeks to bankroll U.S. jobs growth with a sharp surge in exports. He called for steady reductions by India in barriers to trade and investment, in sectors from retail to telecommunications. "New jobs and growth flow to countries that lower barriers to trade and investment," Obama said. "We want to work with you to remove the barriers."
The president also announced a concession to India, unveiling a review of U.S. export control regulations, some dating from the aftermath of New Delhi's 1998 nuclear test, in a move that will also delight U.S. firms.
Michael Froman, Obama's deputy national security advisor for international economic affairs said the reforms reflect Washington's view of India as a strategic partner rather than "a country of concern.".The reforms will provide US support for India's membership of global export control and non-proliferation bodies, lift licensing restrictions on several Indian defense and space entities and update guidelines governing the export of "dual use" technologies.The term refers to a category of U.S. exports that could be employed for military as well as civilian purposes.
David Cote, chairman and chief executive of Honeywell, earlier said here that the current regulations were "very archaic."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010