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US commerce lobby seeks passage of India N-bill

india Updated: Sep 20, 2006 09:48 IST
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The US Chamber of Commerce has urged the Senate to clear the India-US nuclear deal as it would cement a long-term strategic partnership with one of the world's most important emerging powers and open up investment opportunities worth over $ 170 billion.

By ending India's isolation in civilian nuclear power, the enabling legislation before the Senate will lay the foundation for major trade and investment opportunities for US companies, the chamber said in a letter to all senators.

India's energy requirements through 2012 will involve investments of more than $170 billion giving US businesses an enormous opportunity to provide equipment, services and technology to assist India in meeting its energy security needs, wrote Bruce Josten, chamber executive vice president for government affairs.

Expressing the strong support of "the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organisations of every size, sector, and region," Josten said the bill will also promote US non-proliferation objectives.

The US chamber letter follows a similar appeal last week from US-India Business Council and the Coalition for Partnership with India together representing the largest US companies investing in India, academic institutions, associations, think-tanks, and others supporting a deeper strategic partnership with India.

India's nuclear power requirements are projected to generate as many as 27,000 high quality jobs each year for the next 10 years in the US nuclear industry alone. If the US foregoes this opportunity, these benefits will go to the competition, the chamber said.

Other important benefits will accrue to the United States by initiating civilian nuclear cooperation with India. The bill will put in place the necessary framework to finally bring India's civilian nuclear programme under international safeguards.

Under the agreement, which will be submitted for final congressional review at a later date, India will implement permanent IAEA safeguards for two-thirds of its present nuclear facilities and all future civilian nuclear facilities.

Sharing civilian nuclear technology will also provide India's fast growing economy with an environmentally sound energy resource to continue lifting millions of Indians out of poverty.

Although the Senate draft bill contains certain provisions of concern, the chamber hoped that differences between the House and Senate bills will be resolved in a way that will promote US non-proliferation objectives while reinforcing the US-India strategic partnership, the chamber said.

"We cannot move forward to achieve these objectives in conference without a Senate vote," it said.

Congress has a historic opportunity to strengthen the growing partnership between the world's oldest and the world's largest democracies. Therefore, the US Chamber of Commerce strongly encourages your support for the passage of the bill," the chamber said.

The Senate draft was approved in July by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with a bipartisan 16-2 vote. The House overwhelmingly approved its companion bill by a vote of 359-68.

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