In the post-COVID world, India and the US should take concerted and focused efforts to advance the remarkable business and people-to-people linkages between the two countries, according to New Delhi's top envoy here.
Speaking on the occasion of the release of the report Indian Roots, American Soil by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here on Monday, India's Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu noted that the coronavirus pandemic has given both countries new opportunities to step up bilateral cooperation.
"In the post-COVID world, we will need concerted and focused efforts to advance these remarkable business and people-to-people linkages between our two countries, he said.
The current pandemic has presented us with new opportunities for cooperation and has made us recognise the need for collaborations more than ever before, he said.
Based on the survey of 155 Indian companies, the CII report highlights Indian investments across sectors and states in the US. With presence in diverse sectors, like IT, pharma, manufacturing, automotive, energy, defence etc, these companies have invested close to USD 22 billion in the US and employ around 125,000 people, he said.
It is indeed praiseworthy that besides bringing in FDI, our companies through their CSR initiatives have been giving back to the local communities in which they have been welcomed, he said, adding that they are supporting students, particularly in STEM fields, by collaborating with the US educational institutions and are focusing upon upskilling and reskilling of workers to ensure career progression.
Funding research and innovation activities in the US is another significant contribution that they have been making to strengthen and stimulate the US knowledge economy, he said.
Sandhu said it is important to recognise the salient role that respective private sectors have been playing in combating the current pandemic.
Indian tech companies in the US and their offices across the world have been providing behind the scene support to healthcare workers and life sciences companies. In the background, dedicated teams of technology professionals are coding, developing solutions, building the customer interface and ensuring their scalability, he said.
Similarly, the American companies in India have been supporting Governmental efforts to provide relief to farmers and small businesses. Indian pharma companies, which are world leaders in affordable low-cost medicines and vaccines, are also collaborating with them in vaccine development, therapeutics and diagnostics, he said.
Noting that the US has traditionally been an important investment destination for Indian companies, he said the favourable business environment offered by various states in the US as well as policies attracting Indian skilled professionals have ensured the steady flow of Indian FDI into the US.
At the same time, nearly every big American company has a presence in India. In fact, the two-way investment between India and the US has reached USD 60 billion in 2018.
The US also continues to be an important education destination for Indian students. Currently, there are almost 200,000 Indian students studying in the US, of which many of them study STEM degrees and ensure that the US remains competitive in the global tech economy. In terms of tuition alone, it is estimated that students contribute more than USD 5 billion to the US economy.
Besides adding to the innovation and competitive edge of the US tech companies, Indian high skilled professionals are also contributing in critical sectors such as health and Information Technology that provide valuable support to companies in the medical and financial services.
We believe that the young people and skilled professionals of our two countries are the driving force behind further strengthening of our ties, he added.
India also takes immense pride in the contribution of doctors, scientists, academicians of Indian-origin, who came to the United States in the pursuit of academic excellence and have distinguished themselves in diverse fields. In fact, CEOs of some of the leading technology companies in the US were born and raised in India, he said.
Observing that trade and investment remain an important dimension of our strategic partnership, he said bilateral trade stood at USD 150 billion in 2019. While this is impressive, the real potential for our bilateral trade is yet to be reached, he said.
India's huge domestic market, high skilled workforce, existing advantages in digital services along with its competitive tax regime and low labour costs make it an attractive investment destination.
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India is also the seventh largest R&D spender in the world, with USD 48.1 billion R&D spending constituting 2.7 per cent of the global share. India's food processing, renewable energy, ESDM, Pharma, oil & natural gas and retail sectors present immense investment opportunity.
Critical reforms have been introduced recently by the Government of India to promote business and attract investment. The reforms include supply chain reforms for agriculture, rational tax system, simple and clear laws, capable human resource and a strong financial system. These are long pending reform measures in critical sectors. The idea is to transform the crisis into an opportunity, Sandhu said.