NEW DELHI, Mar 4 (AFP): US President George W. Bush urged India yesterday to move decisively to open up its economy while pledging the United States would not give in to domestic protectionist pressures.
In a keynote speech wrapping up a three-day visit to India, Bush called on New Delhi to raise foreign direct investment limits (FDI) and open its market to US farm and industrial goods as well as services.
"India needs to continue to lift its caps on foreign investment, to make its rules and regulations more transparent and to continue to lower its tariffs," Bush said in an address delivered from New Delhi's 16th-century Old Fort.
Bush noted US domestic opposition to outsourcing which has moved many US jobs and services offshore to low-cost countries like India and become a hot-button issue in the United States.
But rather than bow to calls for protectionist measures to wall off the US economy to foreign goods and services, Bush said the United States would retrain workers for new careers and create new jobs.
"The US will not give in to the protectionists ... (it) will trade with confidence," he said before heading to Pakistan on a visit.
Making a strong pitch for liberalising world trade, Bush added he and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were committed to completing the Doha round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks by year end.
"Free and fair trade is good for India and good for America and it is good for the world," he said, adding the United States would make ambitious proposals at the WTO on agriculture, manufacturing and services.
The Doha Round provides the biggest chance to create prosperity for millions of people globally and the United States and India would lead the way, he said. Meanwhile, the Doha Round talks, launched in the Qatari capital in 2001 with the aim of harnessing freer trade to help developing countries, were originally meant to be finished by the end of 2004.
But the negotiations got bogged down as rich and poor nations faced off over trade concessions.
Bush's statement came after India's finance minister told US business leaders accompanying the president "we want your money" as he urged them to invest in a fast-growing economy that is gearing up for new reforms.
"This is a very different India from what we were 20 years ago. In the next 20 years, we will be all the more different. All these are opportunities that beckon investment," Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said.
India, Asia's third-largest economy, was at a "point at which it can sustain eight per cent economic growth," he said. India's fast expansion contrasts with around 3.5 per cent growth in the United States.
"Let me tell you, we want your money. Those who have money have the technology also. I want your technology also. I want your good management policies, good governance norms," Chidambaram said.
He acknowledged investor irritation about foreign ownership barriers in such key financial sectors as insurance but promised to loosen investment rules.
India's Ambassador to the United States, Ronen Sen, told the same forum a landmark deal between the two countries Thursday giving energy-hungry India access to civilian nuclear technology to help fuel its booming economy provided "the right impetus" to increase trade.