US commerce secy in India to push nuclear and defence deals

More than two years after the US and the the Nuclear Supplier’s Group and years after Indian firms inked deals with French and Russian firms, the US has finally sent a delegation to explore and ink deals with its own firms. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has brought heads and officials from 24 US firms in the areas of civil nuclear energy, civil aviation, defense and information and communications technology on a five-day tour of India.

“The delegation, which also includes senior officials from the Export-Import Bank (EX-IM) and the Trade Development Agency (TDA), will also make stops in Bangalore and Mumbai, where Locke will highlight export opportunities and efforts to break down tariff and non-tariff barriers for U.S. businesses,” said a statement from the US Information Services.

The export of goods from the United States to India quadrupled between 2002 and 2009, from $4.1 billion to more than $16.4 billion. Through the first eleven months of 2010, U.S. merchandise exports to India totaled $17.6 billion, up 17 percent from the same period in 2009, the agency said. “India is a key market for the Obama Administration’s National Export Initiative,
which aims to double U.S. exports in five years,” it said.

Locke is expected to make a joint appearance with Indian commerce minister today, besides addressing a Confederation of Indian Industry session.

Despite being at the forefront of ending India’s nuclear isolation, imposed by big countries after its 1998 nuclear tests, the US has been slow to take advantage of the new opportunities presented by the opening up of the Indian nuclear and defense economy. Most of the new projects in civil nuclear sector in India has gone to French and Russian firms.