India needs to open up market to attract investment: US diplomat

Alice G Wells, US State Department's top official for Central and South Asia
The post-coronavirus world provides a window of opportunity to India as countries are looking to diversify their supply chains, a senior American diplomat said on Wednesday.

Alice G Wells, US State Department's top official for Central and South Asia, however, said: "India needs to open up as it is still a protected market, which sometimes denies a level playing field to foreign companies."

"In the post-pandemic environment, countries are looking at a little bit of de-globalisation and onshoring of critical production. And at the same time, there's a very vigorous effort to diversify supply chains," Wells said during a conference call with reporters.

"And this is a real moment of opportunity for India by adopting more open and welcoming policies by reducing tariffs that allow manufacturing companies inside India to be part of the global supply chain," Wells added, stressing on building trusted supply chain relationships.

"India is the world's foremost producer of generic drugs and vaccinations, it is going to play a critical role. So, it will really be an opportunity for us to focus on trade ties and bring together entrepreneurs for greater growth and prosperity of people," she said.
Responding to a question, Wells said trade is a very important part of India-US relationship and the two countries continue to work towards a deal as the bilateral trade between both touched almost $150 billion last year.

"I can't predict whether a deal will be reached this year, but the impetus for achieving a trade deal is very much present," Wells said, adding that India is a critical actor, not just for America's South Asia strategy, but also for the vision of the Pacific region that President Trump put forward in November 2017.

The US has welcomed India's emergence as a leading global power and is a net security provider in the region and the Trump administration has committed the United States to deepen the US-India strategic partnership. "We're working more closely together than ever before to advance shared ambitions," she said.

"The visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US in 2017 and 2019 and President Trump's visit to India this February really showcase the closeness between the two leaders and the two countries," Wells asserted.

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