The US on Wednesday called for stronger energy ties with India, hinting at the possibility of reducing trade and investment barriers between both the countries.
Speaking about the free trade agreement (FTA) while addressing the media at the India Energy Forum by CERAWeek, US Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said, “These types of agreements have opened up new opportunities for us. We can reconcile some of our laws here in the United States and India is going to reconcile some of its laws so that investors have certainty on both sides.
You will continue to see that develop over the course of time again as we deepen the relationship all throughout the government.” He said this strengthening of ties should also be in areas other than energy like commerce and agriculture among others.
Earlier this year, in July, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and the US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, had discussed the possibility of an FTA agreement between both the countries, while contemplating a trade package with limited scope. The bilateral trade between the US and India grew from $126 billion in 2017 to $145 billion in 2019. The Indian government has already indicated that it is targeting it to be in the range of $500 billion in the next five years.
Earlier, while addressing the summit, Brouillette said the US is looking at things like investment barriers in both the countries. “We are looking at our US laws that may prohibit or somehow slow down investments. We are also looking at Indian laws to see if there might be hurdles or some sought of entry barriers,” he said.
Brouillette said during his address at the virtual summit that nearly $10 billion of energy trade between the two nations is the start of a very long and prosperous relationship between the two countries. In the last few years, the share of energy in overall bilateral trade has touched nearly 10 per cent.
“We value our partnership with India. Not only in energy, but in many different areas. I am excited about the strategic dialogue on energy or the natural gas task force that we have set up,” Brouillette added. He said that if India continues with its plans to increase the share of natural gas in its energy basket, it will open up a robust export opportunity for the US. India is set to increase its share of natural gas in the energy basket from 6 per cent at present to 15 per cent by 2030.
The US energy secretary also stated that the US would share technologies with India in fields like oil and gas exploration, battery storage and solar photovoltaic cells. He also stated that India can be a potential manufacturer of a cheaper alternative to silicon solar cells. He said that India was perfectly positioned as a potential manufacturer of perovskite cells, on which research is being conducted at the National Renewable RLboratory in Colarado. He said that the US would like to share such technologies with India.