American and Indian companies signed deals worth billions of dollars on the first day of US President Barack Obama's visit to India, underlining the increasing role economic ties will play in relations between the two countries.
American firms have signed more than 20 deals with Indian companies that will lead to nearly $10 billion in US exports and support more than 50,000 jobs at home, the US president announced to a gathering of CEOs from both countries in Mumbai on Saturday. The deals are valued at nearly $15 billion, the White House later said in a statement.
"The United States sees Asia, especially India, as the market of the future," said Obama, who is travelling with what is probably the largest contingent of CEOs and corporate heads ever to accompany a US president on a foreign trip.
"We don't simply welcome your rise, we ardently support it. We want to invest in it."
Obama told the gathering of CEOs that the US would ease export restrictions that would allow the two countries to co-operate in high-tech sectors. This would allow American companies to do business with several Indian defence and space organisations that the US had blacklisted after India conducted nuclear tests in 1998.
Obama's failure to mention Pakistan's role in the 26/11 terror attacks at his speech earlier during a memorial service for the carnage's victims already indicated that economics and not geopolitics would dominate his visit.
"I'm here because I believe that in our interconnected world, increased commerce between the United States and India can be and will be a win-win proposition for both nations," said the US president, who is under more pressure than ever to create jobs at home after his Democratic Party faced a drubbing last week in mid-term elections to the Congress.
The deals finalised include the sale by Boeing Company of 30 737-800 aircraft to SpiceJet and the sale of more than a hundred General Electric jet engines, Obama said.
The deals were signed just before his speech at a closed-door session between Obama and select CEOs from both countries. The events were part of a summit organised by the US India Business Council, a Washington DC-based organisation, at the Trident hotel.
The deals include heavy-duty defence agreements such as a preliminary one between Boeing and the Indian Air Force. The US company will sell 10 C-17 Globemaster military transport aircraft to us, the White House said in its statement.
The American President urged India to also do its bit by reducing barriers to trade and foreign investment.