U.S.-India infrastructure roundtable in Washington takes infrastructure collaboration initiative forward

New Delhi: The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in collaboration with the US International Trade Administration and 32 advisors organized the US – India Infrastructure Roundtable in Washington on Monday.

This event was organised to discuss important areas of cooperation in infrastructure sector and to identify the opportunities for developing partnerships with financial institutions, governments at both federal and provincial levels, as well as the industry who are crucial to advancing the goals of infrastructure sector.

Amitabh Kant, Secretary (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, while addressing the roundtable, said that policy measures have been taken up by the Indian Government across a wide spectrum including infrastructure, labour, land, energy, skill development, and financial inclusion. At the same time, the government is making efforts to create a conducive business environment based on a simplified, transparent and competitive tax regime. Further, the regulatory structure is being revamped to bring efficiency and transparency in decision making and to build the trust and confidence amongst investors.

Kant said that a slew of legislative and executive actions have been undertaken to create an enabling environment for growth of enterprises. The Indian Government has also taken steps to ease difficulties in business and has recently enhanced the FDI cap in crucial sectors like insurance and defence manufacturing and permitted 100 per cent FDI in railways infrastructure.

He said that U.S. has the ability to create world-class infrastructure and possess liquidity to finance long term projects. Mr. Kant suggested that the U.S. industry could finance long term infrastructure projects and bring its cutting-edge technology to India for building intelligent transport systems in the country.

In his introductory remarks, Bruce Andrews, U.S.Deputy Secretary of Commerce, mentioned the U.S. government’s agenda on infrastructure sector and said that the United States is a leader in providing advanced technologies, designers and engineers in the infrastructure development space.

He further said that the smart cities agenda is a great opportunity for US and it offers immense opportunities of cooperation between US and India. One of the prime focus areas under the infrastructure collaboration platform would include financing and working on a format for municipal bonds and starting an innovation competition for challenges in the SMART City framework.

Andrews announced that he will lead a Smart Cities Infrastructure Business Development Mission to India from February 8-12, 2016, with stops in Mumbai, Chennai, and Delhi. The trade mission will help U.S. companies launch or increase their business in India, focusing on technologies, systems and services in the safety and security, intelligent transportation, water, wastewater, and power sectors.

This engagement will drive and enhance the sustainable growth of India’s infrastructure sector, while making India’s growing urban centers more attractive to business and providing a better quality of life for India’s citizens.

Leocadia Zak, Director, United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), reiterated the support of the USTDA for the US – India Infrastructure Collaboration Platform under which three Smart Cities are supported in India.

Deepak Bagla, Managing Director, Invest India, highlighted the investment opportunities for US companies in the Indian infrastructure sector and said that US investments in the infrastructure sector would receive priority support and the agency would provide all the required support services for the US investors.

The roundtable witnessed massive interest from the Indian as well as the US based private sector companies involved in infrastructure funding, transportation, construction, urban development, energy, amongst others. Senior officials from the US Government were present during the roundtable.

A number of major private sector companies such as IIFCL, EXIM Bank of India, SBI Caps, American Towers, AECOM, Indosolar, Welspun, etc. brainstormed to explore the business opportunities through mutual collaborations in infrastructure development. (ANI)