Washington, D.C.—The US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) hosted Minister Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce and Industries, for his only industry interactive dialogue in Washington, D.C.

Minister Prabhu’s visit to the U.S. last week marked his first trip to the U.S. in his position as Minister of Commerce and Industries, which he was appointed to by Prime Minister Modi in September, after having most recently served as Minister of Railways for India. During his visit, he attended the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meetings with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Commercial Dialogue meetings with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In his opening remarks, USISPF Board Member Secretary William Cohen referred to the U.S. and India as “natural partners going forward,” saying that, “In this room, you have representatives of leading U.S. and Indian companies, who deserve important credit for being the foundation of our bilateral relationship.  They have significant investments in India and the U.S., they are responsible for the strong people-to-people connections that exist today, their investments and innovation drive growth, they train and provide jobs for our citizens, and their voices help shape policies in both countries.”

Rakesh Mittal, CII-President Designate & Vice Chairman of Bharti Enterprises, discussed the importance of trade between the U.S., saying, “there’s no denying that India and U.S. are very important trade partners with job creation and sustainability,” and that this discussion will serve as a forum to “identify challenges and seek opportunities as well.”

The USISPF and CII roundtable served as a frank and candid discussion with industry representatives in both countries, who raised issues regarding commercial trade in both the U.S. and India, including price controls on medical devices, IPR protection, and defense collaboration. During his remarks, Minister Prabhu raised the significance of the U.S.-India partnership, saying, “India and the U.S. share a strategic relationship that extends across all sectors. We are looking at strengthening and deepening this relationship further in a way that not only leads to economic benefits for both of our countries, but also promotes global peace and prosperity.”

Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Rita Teotia, spoke about the issues with medical devices and pharmaceutical policy, and recognized the opportunity for insurance companies to look at India’s healthcare system, which can “offer quality healthcare at an affordable price.”  She added that the government is working “to make it easier for companies to operate in India.”

The first portion of the roundtable focused around interactions between U.S. companies and the Indian government. Senior representatives were present from U.S. companies including Wal-Mart, Amway, Lockheed Martin, Cigna, Dell, Boston Scientific Corporation, and Caterpillar, to name a few. During the remainder of the program, senior U.S. government officials from the Department of State, U.S. Trade Representative, and Department of Commerce joined the discussion to provide a readout of the TPF and Commercial Dialogue meetings that occurred earlier in the week.

Dr. Mukesh Aghi thanked attendees for participating in the roundtable, and reiterated the strategic importance of the two-way dialogue, nothing that “with a strong economic relationship built on private sector investment, we will be able to dramatically grow and develop India, which will in turn benefit not only the U.S., but the rest of the world.”

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