February 28,2006

Baucus Calls on President to Strengthen Economic, Trade Relationships During India Visit

Finance Committee’s top Democrat traveled to Delhi, Bangalore in January; trip focused on U.S. competitiveness and trade issues

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, today encouraged President Bush to strengthen American economic and trade relationships with India during a trip there this week. Baucus visited China and India in January, focusing on those countries’ economic growth and its impact on American competitiveness. This year, Baucus is introducing legislation to enhance American competitiveness in numerous areas, from education to trade, energy, and taxes. Following are comments from Senator Baucus on the President’s trip:

“President Bush travels to India this week at an important moment in the Indo-American relationship. The President’s discussions will likely revolve largely around political and security issues, particularly civilian nuclear cooperation. That issue deserves serious discussion in India and here at home, as implementing this agreement will require changes in U.S. non-proliferation law.

“But on this trip, the President should not miss opportunities to strengthen our trade and economic relationships with India. These relationships are critical to the competitiveness of both the U.S. and Indian economies. U.S. exports to India have doubled since 2003 and are projected to double again in a few short years. India was our fastest-growing export market last year.

“We have to take this relationship to the next level. The President will hear, as I did on my recent visit to Delhi and Bangalore, how many opportunities there are for American investment – particularly as India modernizes its roads, airports, and ports -- and how few Americans are showing up and seizing those opportunities for great economic benefit. Both our countries must work to change that.

“The President should also call, as I have, for continued trade liberalization in India. That will go a long way to encouraging American investment and helping India develop its economy. Among other areas, the President should urge India to lower its agricultural tariffs, which are among the highest in the world at 114 percent. Greater intellectual property protection in India can benefit both our countries, as will increased access to India’s vibrant services market and reform of legacy rules that continue to impede U.S. investment.

“The United States and India have so much to offer each other. I hope the President takes advantage of the opportunities before him, and talks to Indian leaders about real economic and trade solutions that will enhance the competitiveness of both our nations.”

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