Scams don''t deter US frims from doing biz with India: Locke

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Mumbai, Feb 11 (PTI) Visiting US Commerce Secretary GaryLocke today said American companies are keen on doing businesswith India notwithstanding the present scams rocking thegovernment.

"Our companies are very much interested inparticipating in the India growth story. The present scandalsdo not mean that tomorrow it will be worse," Locke said whenasked about the impact of the multiple scandals dogging theIndian government.

He called for lowering of tariffs on civil aviation andmedical devices as well as removal of non-tariff barriers likemandatory technology transfer on telecom equipment.

"Such measures (tariff barriers) would protect domesticindustry in the short-term, but would hit foreign investmentand innovation in the longer-term," he said.

He is accompanies by by 24 American companies, 14 ofwhich are mid-sized firms, on his India visit.

Locke said New Delhi badly needs to open its doors tomore and easy flow of direct foreign capital. India alone doesnot have the resources to fund the planned USD 1-trillioninvestment in the infrastructure, or the billions needed forimproving education and health-care, or the supply chainmanagement to manage inflation better, he pointed out.

"Ultimately, all that America seeks is a level-playingfield for its companies, where the cost and the quality of itsproducts and services determine whether or not they securebusiness," he said.

India is only the 14th biggest trading partner for the USnow, with USD 36.5 billion in 2010 in bilateral trade, and theUS is only the No 3 partner for India, slipping from no 1 tillrecently, he pointed out.

When pointed out that he is calling for easier access toIndia even as his government is discriminating against Indiancompanies by hiking the H1 visa fee 200 per cent, he said,"the H1 visa fee hike is not targeted at just Indians orIndian tech companies; it is aimed at all companies that haveover 50 per cent of their workers on H1 visas.

Also, it is only a temporary measure, which is the resultof the thinking among some Congressmen to make some quickdollars. If not repealed earlier, it will die on its own by2015."

Locke repeated his appeal to New Delhi to open the Indianeconomy.

"If India continues its walk down the path of reform,if it continues to become more open to the investments andinnovations of foreign companies -- like the 24 companies Ihave with me this week -- it will stand a much better chanceof meeting the needs of its people and of helping to lead theglobal economy in the 21st century," Locke said.

He, however, clarified "I am not calling for a one-waytrade. We need more trade and commerce cooperation so thathundreds of thousands of jobs can be created in both thecountries," he added.

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