US praises GST, says it will give boost to bilateral business ties
Praising India's most transformative tax reform in decades, Goods and Services Tax or GST, the United States said that bilateral trade has reached $109 billion and it will get a further boost from new reforms including GST even as it flagged persisting concerns American firms have on issues related to business climate in the fast-growing economy.
US commerce secretary Penny Pritzker, who will be on a 3-day India visit from Monday, also said that travel and tourism and sub-national engagement have been identified as two new areas of focus to drive commercial cooperation between the two countries in 2017, under which the focus would shift from India and the US to Chennai and Charleston.
She said the Obama Administration in the past seven-and-a-half years has made significant progress toward realising the potential of what could be one of the largest commercial relationships in the world.
"Our two countries enjoy a thriving trade and investment relationship. US-India bilateral trade reached $109 billion in 2015, up from $37 billion in 2005.
"US and Indian companies are also investing in each other's economies at record levels. In 2015, US investment in Indiareached more than $28 billion and Indian investment in the United States reached more than $11 billion. In fact, US affiliates of Indian-owned firms now employ more than 52,000 workers in the US," Pritzker said.
She exuded confidence that "India's rapidly growing economy and the Modi government's ambitious reform agenda, including the landmark Goods and Services Tax, passage of the recent national bankruptcy law, and liberalised foreign direct investment limits in key sectors, point toward a deeper economic relationship in the years ahead."
Asserting that there is a tremendous potential for the US and India to achieve even more together, the Secretary said she is particularly excited over two new areas of focus that will drive their cooperation in the coming year - travel and tourism, and subnational engagement.
She described increasing the number of travelers who move between the US and India as a significant commercial opportunity. More than 1 million people travel between the two countries each year.
"While that figure is strong, there is certainly potential for growth," she added.
On sub-national engagement, Pritzker said: "Both US and Indian states play a vital role in driving economic growth and setting business climate policy. Companies choose to invest in Charleston, South Carolina or Chennai just as much as they select the US and India."
(With PTI inputs)