Thursday, May 29, 2003
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By Arunkumar Bhatt
And the concern is spelt out in so many words by the outgoing U.S. Ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, who told a press conference here today that in 2002, Indian exports to the U.S., the country's largest export market, reached $11.7 billion, but the American exports remained at $ 3.7 billion, stagnating at the level of 1997.
Mr. Blackwill described the growing trade imbalance as "underperformance of Indo-U.S. economic relationship'' and said the U.S. was especially concerned about the underlying market access asymmetries between the two economies. India was, however, the 25th largest trading partner of the U.S. When asked about some American states' move to stop outsourcing computer software from India, Mr. Blackwill said only four state legislatures had discussed the matter but none passed any resolution. But the matter could become a political issue as outsourcing affected jobs in the U.S. and the way out was raising the American exports to India and not to reduce the Indian exports to the U.S.
The Ambassador narrated all round transformation of the bilateral relations during his tenure, highlighting that the U.S. economic sanctions against India were gone long and the armed forces of both countries had done seven major training exercises and the defence cooperation was flourishing. Both the sides were actively discussing even high technology trade, civilian space and nuclear activities. He did not elaborate.
He said the Bush administration hoped that India would participate in reconstruction of Iraq and restoration of stability in Iraq. "I believe that India would also benefit from such a manifestation of its role as an emerging great power in a region critical to its vital national interests,'' he said.
Mr. Blackwill emphatically denied America was the "hidden hand'' behind the Prime Minister's initiative that is now thawing the Indo-Pak relations. "So hidden that we did not exist,'' he said. While underscoring America's support to the "noble'' process, he said and stressed that there was no American roadmaps, no American gameplans and no American substantive proposals. "I do not know how to make this point on behalf of my government more clearly or more definitively.''
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