The long-standing partnership between the United States and India is on the cusp of an historic transformation. Working together, the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest democracy can forge a new era of shared prosperity and security for hundreds of millions of people in India, across Asia and the world.
India's rise will help the Indo-Pacific region become more stable, more prosperous and more free. The strategic choices India makes on how to grow its economy and promote regional security will directly impact Asia's growth and U.S. interests. As President Barack Obama has observed, America's economy and security will increasingly be influenced by events in Asia. India's economic strength and business environment are, therefore, of strategic importance to both our countries.
We are coming to India to deliver a single message: the United States is prepared to be a full partner in this effort. We will work hand in hand with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government to promote open and liberal trade and investment, job training, and closer strategic ties.
We are not starting from scratch. Since 2000, trade between our countries has increased nearly fivefold to more than $96 billion, Indian investment in the US has grown from just over $300 million to $9 billion, and U.S. investment in India has risen from $2.4 billion to $28 billion. Ford is spending $1 billion to turn its new auto plant in Gujarat into a regional manufacturing hub. U.S. subsidiaries of Indian-owned companies employ 45,000 people in the United States. Citizens of both countries recognize the importance of our relationship. Half of all Indians see the United States as their country's "most dependable future ally," according to a recent Pew poll. Similarly, a recent Gallup poll found that more Americans than ever have a favorable view of India.
The Next Chapter
We want to build on this strong foundation. We will focus on specific areas that are aligned with the priorities of India's new government.
First, infrastructure. We will have astrong focus on this area during our strategic dialogue, reinforcing our joint efforts to create a business climate conducive to increasing U.S. private sector participation in India's infrastructure needs. We believe U.S. companies can play a leading role in bringing cutting-edge technologies, equipment, capital, services, and know-how to India.
Second, India and the United States are rich in talent. By sharing best practices and skills in manufacturing, training and education, we can expand that talent together. India is already a center of entrepreneurship with budding innovators. But we can expand practical programs like vocational training, community colleges and healthcare industry skills. Some 1,00,000 Indian students are pursuing higher education degrees at American universities. Increasing our collaboration in these areas will strengthen both of our economies.
Third, creating a business climate that is open to global business and investment is key to unleashing India's economic potential. Attracting investment, technology, and know-how is essential to growth and requires all of us to have world-class, transparent, and clear regulations that incentivize innovation by ensuring protection of intellectual property rights.
The development of competitive technology and manufacturing capabilities that integrate India into global supply chains will create far more employment than mandatory local-content requirements, which discourage foreign investment. Creating a level playing field will help India attract even more foreign investment, and help it boost growth.
In that regard, as we work with our trading partners around the world to advance trade and investment liberalisation, India must decide where it fits in the global trading system. Its commitment to a rules-based trading order and its willingness to fulfil its obligations will be a key indication.
Editor's Note: This op-ed also appears on The Economic Times.