Need more American investment into India, says Sibal

New Delhi, Dec 2: Communications Minister Kapil Sibal Monday called for greater investments from US-based companies in India to create jobs and buying capacity for the local population.

“You need to invest in agriculture, medical (sector), electronics and education. Unless you help Indian economy, you won’t be able to increase buying capacity of Indian consumers,” Sibal said at the the ninth Indo-US Resurgence Summit held here.

“The (US investors) are interested in selling their aircraft, defence equipments, but that is not the way to converge in this partnership.”

According to Indian government estimates, the Indo-US trade in merchandise goods for the calendar year 2012 stood at $62.85 billion with balance of trade surplus of $18.18 billion in favour of India.

On the other hand, civilian and military orders placed by India with American companies have created thousands of jobs in the US. Notwithstanding the growing trade ties, the US under its strategic partnership wants to co-develop new systems for civilian and military purposes with India.

The minister, who was speaking at the event organised by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC), also attacked the US government policy of restricting visas to Indian information technology (IT) professionals.

“You are a country that talks about liberalisation of global economy and yet you are increasing cost of our IT sector by trying to impose restriction on our people trying to go to US. I don’t think this is the right attitude for partners,” Sibal said.

Sibal added that the trade between the two countries can rapidly expand, and pointed at the enormous opportunity for the companies of two sides to collaborate in areas like manufacture of consumer durables as there is exponential demand in India.

“Today because of high wages cost in China, manufacturing facilities are shifting to India. Japanese are very keen to invest in India, I don’t know why the Americans don’t come forward,” Sibal said.

“The present import bill of crude oil is about $140 billion. Do you think Indian economy can afford to import $300 billion of consumer electronics? We will become bankrupt. We have no choice to build manufacturing sector in our country.”

The day-long summit in the national capital is being attended by more than 200 delegates representing companies and institutions from India and the US, including top diplomats and officials from government levels.

According to IACC’s regional president Lalit Bhasin, the summit is focusing on enhancing partnership between the two countries in the sphere of aviation, aerospace, security, services, trade, media and entertainment.

“Our resurgent summit seeks to provide more depth to commercial ties between the world’s most powerful and the world’s largest democracies”,” Bhasin said.

“The idea to enhance the partnership to the next level of business, the middle-level enterprises that are thriving hubs of innovation and employment.”

IANS