U.S. sees India an alternative hub for business to China

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"I want to see a US-India FTA ... a strategic view of our economic relationship could eventually lead to a roadmap for a US-India Free Trade Agreement", US Ambassador to India Kenneth I Juster said here on Thursday. "Rather investing in each other's markets will be mutually beneficial as it will increase economic interactions and volume of trade". "India and the United States have a stake in the security and stability of Afghanistan".

"That was really a major impetus in suspending the security assistance to Pakistan because we feel they have not done all that they could to try to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan that are contributing to unrest in Afghanistan", Juster added.

He also echoed President 's belief that India play a bigger role in Afghanistan, even as he stressed that the situation would not improve till "Pakistan does not contribute positively". We will not tolerate any kind of safe havens and cross-border terrorism. On China and the new worldwide philosophy, Juster said, "Our strategy in the Indo-Pacific is an affirmative strategy. we want to have a constructive relationship with every country in the region. with mutual respect, that does not infringe on the sovereignty of other countries. we want to have a constructive relationship with the Chinese".

"We (Us and India) have a strong mutual interest in eliminating this threat to our societies".

"We will not tolerate terrorism, cross-border terrorism or any form of terrorism or safe havens of any type". " "America First" and "Make in India" are not incompatible".

Jester said the U.S. is looking at lifting ties with India "from the strategic to the durable". After membership to the Wassenaar Arrangement and MTCR, Juster said, India would "very soon" become a member of the Australia Group.

Delivering his inaugural policy address on US-India Relations at Carnegie India, Juster said US is concerned about persistent trade deficit with its trade partners, including India.

Juster's statement comes at a time when India will be once again pursuing its membership for the NSG during the meeting of the group this summer.

India has been seeking entry into the 48-member elite nuclear club, which controls nuclear trade, but China has repeatedly stonewalled its bid. India is not a signatory to NPT.

"The US would like Pakistan to come to the table and assist us in this effort". Through its sustained efforts, the U.S. believes that India may finally get a seat in the NSG. Together we want to ensure a free& open region. he added. The US will remain committed to this region - as we are to the rules-based global order - because our future is inextricably linked to it.

He, however, expressed concerns about persistent trade deficits, including the one the USA has with India.

Juster, who was speaking at an event in the national capital today, also allayed Indian concerns about reports of a further tightening in the H1B visa regime, in line with president Trump's "America First" policy.

"A number of US companies have reported increasing difficulties conducting business in the largest market in the region - China".

In fact, he went as far as to suggest that India emerge an as "alternative hub" to China for United States businesses in the region.

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