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USIBC pledges to energise support

The US-India Business Council has decided to boost its US Chamber-sponsored "Coalition for Partnership with India" after the trust vote victory.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, New York
UPDATED ON JUL 23, 2008 12:02 PM IST

The US-India Business Council (USIBC) has pledged to energise its US Chamber-sponsored "Coalition for Partnership with India" following Indian parliament's vote of confidence in favour of the next steps in securing the civilian nuclear deal with the US.

Referring to the news from India, USIBC president Ron Somers said, "This marks a historic victory for India and for the globe. India's responsible record in developing its existing civilian nuclear power programme will bring much-needed talent and innovation to the 'nuclear renaissance' underway, necessary to stem global warming."

USIBC had spearheaded legislation in 2006 to change the US Atomic Energy Act of 1954, enabling civilian nuclear cooperation with India.

The next step in the India-US nuclear deal is to reach a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on India's atomic power plants, setting the stage for consideration by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to waive conditions relative to New Delhi.

That will enable civilian nuclear trade in technology and fuel by the Group member countries ending the 35-year technology denial regime that has been imposed against India.

The US, Britain, France, Russia, Japan, China, and most recently Australia - all key members of the NSG - have already voiced their support for ending the embargo against civilian nuclear trade with India, a USIBC press release said.

After NSG makes its rule changes, the US Congress must ratify the so-called 123 Agreement between the US and India, which will open the way for US companies to participate in civilian nuclear cooperation with India.

"US companies look forward to cooperating with Indian companies to achieve this important energy security infrastructure build-out," Somers said.

He conceded that "time is tight" because of the busy US Congressional calendar till the presidential election in November, but added: "We are encouraged by recent statements made by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Senator Joe Biden, who says he will find time to press for ratification of the 123 Agreement so long as India is able to complete its steps.

"USIBC and the Coalition for Partnership with India will be front and centre in this debate to ensure US Congressional passage," Somers added.

The USIBC, formed in 1975 under the aegis of the US Chamber of Commerce, is the premier business advocacy organisation representing 280 of the largest US companies investing in India, joined by two dozen of India's largest global companies. It is mandated to deepen US-India commercial ties.

Coalition for Partnership with India comprises American businesses, academic institutions, associations, think tanks, and like-minded individuals supporting a deeper strategic partnership with India.

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