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Pompeo pushes India for access to local markets

Pompeo will embark on a four-nation visit of the Indo-Pacific on 24 June. Other than India, he will visit Sri Lanka, Japan and South Korea, concluding his tour on 30 June

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Washington D.C.: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pushed for India to further open its economy and also “diversify” its energy portfolio, saying countries that have provided American companies access to their local markets have seen “real opportunity”.

Speaking at the India Ideas Summit of US-India Business Council here Wednesday, ahead of his visit to New Delhi later this month, he also said America is “open” to dialogue on trade issues. He added countries that have allowed US firms to have a “fair and reciprocal trade”, have seen America open up to them. “And I think they’ve seen a real opportunity.”

The top American diplomat’s remarks have come amid trade-related frictions between the US and several other countries, including Mexico, India and China.

US President Donald Trump has been pursuing his trade policies aggressively and imposed tariffs on China, hitting billions of dollars of import of Chinese products.

The US media Friday reported that India could be his next target.

On Monday in a TV interview, Trump criticised India’s import tariff on Harley Davidson motorcycles as “unacceptable”, though he acknowledged that his “good friend” Prime Minister Narendra Modi has slashed the duty by half.

Earlier this month, Trump announced his decision to terminated India’s designation as a beneficiary under the Generalised System of Preference trade programme, which allows duty-free entry for products into the US, from June 5.

During his visit to India, Pompeo is to meet Prime Minister Modi and his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar, and will likely to discuss trade in addition to strategic issues.

“We remain open to dialogue, and hope that our friends in India will drop their trade barriers and trust in the competitiveness” of their companies and businesses, he said at major his policy speech at USIBC.

“We’ll also push for a free flow of data across borders, not just to help American companies, but to protect data and secure consumers’ privacy,” he said. “And speaking of privacy, we are eager to help India establish secure communications networks including 5G.”

Pompeo said more than 500 American companies successfully operate in India and the US is a market of roughly 20% of India’s exports in both goods and services.

“I think that makes India a perfect partner and a great place for us to figure out how to grow our economies and get win-win solutions for both nations,” he said, adding India’s free-market reforms unleashed innovation and entrepreneurship.

India by purchasing oil and gas from the US can have a fully diversified energy portfolio where they don’t have to “rely on nations that aren’t as reliable as” the United States, he said, apparently referring to Iran with which the US is engaged in a bitter standoff after Trump abruptly withdrew from a landmark nuclear agreement in May last year.

Pompeo will embark on a four-nation visit of the Indo-Pacific on 24 June. Other than India, he will visit Sri Lanka, Japan and South Korea, concluding his tour on 30 June.

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