The United States has announced a new programme to fast-track high-technology trade with India from which General Electric's India division will be the first Indian company to benefit.
"This is an important step in enabling a more rapid and efficient flow of sensitive technology between India and the United States," US Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke announced at the US-India Business Council's 34th Anniversary "Synergies Summit" Wednesday.
"This is an important step in enabling a more rapid and efficient flow of sensitive technology between India and the United States," Locke said.
"It also is a significant effort to build trust between the United States and India. We're looking forward to reciprocal actions from our partner," he said encouraging other Indian firms also to take advantage of the programme.
Under the programme, the General Electric unit will be designated a "validated end user," allowing it to more easily import technologies for security-sensitive industries such as civilian aircraft and explosive detection.
"That means the company will be allowed to enter a pre-approved, export express lane as a trusted end user. No more need for a license," Locke said.
The programme will allow Indian companies to request a special background review in order to receive clearance as a "validated end-user" that eliminates the need for them to request US clearance for every transaction.
The only countries eligible for the programme to date are India and China, which was approved in late April.
Last year, US companies exported $18 billion worth of goods to India, and India shipped the United States $25 billion worth of goods, Locke said.
That the VEU programme was opened for India is an indication of the increased importance of the US-India bilateral and commercial relationship, Locke said asking India to loosen foreign direct investment restrictions in the financial services, retail and cable and satellite television sectors.
"India also needs to boost its protection of intellectual property rights, he said. "Piracy and counterfeiting is still a serious problem and India's criminal enforcement regime remains weak."
"US businesses also need more clarity on guidelines and procedures for doing business in India, which can be every bit as difficult a barrier to entry as onerous tariffs," he said.