India plans to buy $ 5 bn of oil and gas from the US every year, India’s new ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said (Representative Photo)(AFP)
India plans to buy $ 5 bn of oil and gas from the US every year, India’s new ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said (Representative Photo)(AFP)

India committed to buying $5 billion of oil, gas from US every year

A recent importer of US oil and gas, India plans to scale up its buys — which stood at $3.8 billion in 2018, including bitumen substitute and mineral wax, according to the Indian embassy website.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Washington
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2019 11:11 PM IST

India is committed to buying nearly $5 billion of oil and natural gas from the United States every year, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, the new Indian ambassador said Tuesday at a US chamber of commerce event, adding bilateral trade between the two countries was growing “exponentially” and not “incrementally”.

A recent importer of US oil and gas, India plans to scale up its buys — which stood at $3.8 billion in 2018, including bitumen substitute and mineral wax, according to the Indian embassy website.

India is “committed to purchase close to nearly $ billion of oil and gas from the United States every year (and) our companies have placed orders for 300 aircraft manufactured in the US worth $40 billion,” Shringla said at a reception hosted for him at the US-India Business Council, a unit of the US chamber of commerce, the most powerful trade body in the US.

Speaking of the relationship generally, the ambassador said, “What amazes me is that in the last few years, the amount of progress that our relationship has made is unparalleled in many senses.” The United States is India largest trading partner and India is among top 10 of US’s trading partners.

In terms of the sheer volume of business between the countries, the ambassador said, “we have been galloping forward; we are not moving forward incrementally, we are moving forward exponentially.”

Bilateral trade between the countries — goods and services — rose from $119 billion two years ago to end the year in 2018 at $140 billion. Some people — such as former US Vice President Joe Biden — have said the target should be $500 billion.

The ambassador spoke also of growing defence trade — of billions of dollars of orders that are being implemented. and interests in defense platforms such as Chinook and Apache helicopters and Howitzers.

India and the United States are in the midst of talks to resolve trade issues that have bedeviled ties for years, irrespective of parties in power in either capital, to which the Trump administration has added a few of its own, specially, tariff on steel and aluminium.

The Trump administration has identified India among countries with which the United States runs a trade deficit, though it is nowhere near its deficit with China. Indian purchases of US oil and gas and the aircraft are expected to cut the deficit over the years.

President Trump has spoken of these trade talks several times. At a Diwali event last November, he had said, “We are trying very hard to make better trade deals with India.”

And had added: “but they are very good traders, very good negotiators … the best.”

“But we are working and its moving along.”

Ambassador Shringla also spoke India students in the United States — 227,000 now – who contribute an estimated $6.5 billion to the American academic sector.

Welcoming the ambassador to the USIBC reception, his first public engagement after taking office, the body’s president Nisha Biswal said, “We’re partnering across the Indo-Pacific. But we’re also deepening the ties between our cities and states. In fact, throughout the year, you will see more and more engagement between our states in our cities, more and more governors, mayors going to India, chief ministers and legislators coming here.”

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