Washington, March 23 (IANS) US-India Business Council (USIBC) has come out in strong support of legislation that recognizes India's status as an essential US defence partner and facilitates additional co-production/co-development and trade.
The trade body comprised of 350 top tier US and Indian companies advancing US-India commercial ties, Tuesday expressed support for a bill introduced in the House of Representatives by George Holding, Republican co-chair of the House India Caucus.
The US-India Defence Technology and Partnership Act amends the Arms Export Control Action in order to formalise India's status for the purpose of congressional notifications as a major partner of equal status as America's treaty allies and closest partners.
"This sends an important signal to the Indian defence establishment that today's political conditions are fundamentally different from the past," USIBC said.
The legislation also encourages actions necessary to promote defence trade, it said. For the US, it encourages the government to designate an official to focus on US-India defence cooperation and facilitate the transfer of defence technology.
It also provides for maintaining a special office in the Pentagon dedicated exclusively to the US-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), focus on enhancing India's operational capabilities, and promote co-production/co-development opportunities.
For India, it encourages the government to authorise combined military planning with the US for missions of mutual interest such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter piracy, and maritime domain awareness.
"Defence trade between our countries is one of the strongest areas of the bilateral economic relationship and has risen from some $300 million to over $14 billion over the last 10 years," USIBC president Mukesh Aghi said.
"This bill not only puts India on par with other NATO allies in terms of the notification period, it sends a clear signal to Washington and Delhi that defense cooperation should be a top priority for both governments," he said.
"That's why we have supported this bill from the very beginning and we thank Congressman Holding for his leadership in promoting deeper defense ties between the US and India," Aghi said.
"Together the US and India face a range of shared security challenges and I believe we should be encouraging deeper defence ties and closer cooperation between our countries," Holding said.
"The US-India Defence Technology and Partnership Act will build upon the recent progress made to strengthen our strategic partnership by facilitating closer collaboration, promoting greater defence trade, and by elevating India's status," he said.