Washington: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pushed for India to further open its economy and also ‘diversify’ its energy portfolio. He asserted Wednesday that countries that have provided American companies access to their markets have seen ‘real opportunity’.
Speaking at the India Ideas Summit of US-India Business Council (USIBC) here, ahead of his visit to New Delhi later this month, Pompeo also said America is ‘open’ to dialogue on trade issues. He added countries that have allowed US firms to have a ‘fair and reciprocal trade’, have seen America open up to them.
The top American diplomat’s remarks have come amid trade-related frictions between the United States and several other countries, including Mexico, India and China.
US President Donald Trump has been pursuing his trade policies aggressively and imposed tariffs on China, hitting billions of dollars of import of Chinese products. The US media reported Wednesday that India could be his next target.
Monday in a TV interview, Trump criticised India’s import tariff on Harley Davidson motorcycles as ‘unacceptable’, though he acknowledged that his ‘good friend’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi has slashed the duty by half.
During his visit to India, Pompeo is to meet Prime Minister Modi and his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar, and is likely to discuss trade in addition to strategic issues.
“We remain open to dialogue, and hope that our friends in India will drop their trade barriers and trust in the competitiveness of their companies and businesses,” Pompeo said at USIBC.
“We’ll also push for free flow of data across borders, not just to help American companies, but to protect data and secure consumers’ privacy. And speaking of privacy, we are eager to help India establish secure communications networks – including 5G,” added the American diplomat.
Pompeo stated that the Trump Administration is trying to take down financial barriers and and create open markets.
“It needs to be a place where our partnership is one of true equals, not of domination. Based on my conversations in New Delhi last year, and in subsequent phone calls and meetings, I believe this is a deeply shared vision,” Pompeo said, referring to his previous visit to India in September last year for the inaugural ‘2+2 dialogue’.
Pompeo said more than 500 American companies successfully operate in India and the US is a market of roughly 20 per cent of India’s exports in both goods and services.
“I think that makes India a perfect partner and a great place for us to figure out how to grow our economies and get win-win solutions for both nations,” pointed out Pompeo, while adding India’s free-market reforms unleashed innovation and entrepreneurship. “That prosperity that began to be ushered back in 1991 has helped propel Indians to every corner of the Earth,” asserted the Secretary of State.
Responding to a question from the audience after his address, Pompeo revealed that as a businessman, before he ran for Congress, he had spent some time in Chennai and Bangalore trying to sell products to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
“I’ll tell you what. It was tough. India was still opening up, it was still figuring its way through, but there was a real value proposition there, and we did well,” he said.