Nuclear power deal: high time India, US tied up
“Its time that the India-US civil nuclear deal takes it next steps, especially in nuclear power. I am a bit disappointed with the progress so far,” said Raymond E Vickery Jr, a leading advisor on US-India relations and former US Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton administration. Agreeing that it was long years since the agreement was signed (2008), Raymond said, “It was important to put a shovel in the ground and produce a bit of electricity.”
On the American side big corporates such as Westinghouse are moving forward. The key to acceleration will be the working together of two governments. There is a revival recently in the private sector of US with at least three new projects taking off. In India it is under government and public sector purview, he told BusinessLine in an interview here. However, Raymond, who played a primary role in the passage of the legislation in US, contended that India has substantially gained indirectly through the deal as it has opened many avenues and ended technology isolation.
It has enabled supply of fuel from several countries such as Canada and Australia, financial and technology cooperation from France and Russia, etc. The deal has in a way facilitated nearly $10 billion in the defence sector, improved space cooperation, removal of technology denial regimes and increasing FDI into India from the US in recent years. He pointed out the Defence Investment and Trade Initiative (DITI) which is expected to grow in a big way in four areas — drones, intelligence gathering technology, C130 Jets, technology for carriers and large planes and hot jet engines co-production, he contended.
Asked about the recent nuclear deal with Iran and its implications for US-India trade, Raymond said, a major offshoot could be in the energy sector for India. With the few irritants removed, Indian companies such as ONGC, ONGC-Videsh, GAIL, OVL, etc, can get involved in the US energy market. The US has emerged as the biggest natural gas producer. India has a crisis on the energy front and for long Iran has been a major source of supply. With the settlement of the nuclear issue with Iran, trade and economy can grow once the trust factor is improved. Economic engagement should be the driver in future, he added.
On ‘Make in India’ and enthusiasm among American corporate and investors, Raymond said “India is well positioned to take advantage of the problems happening in manufacturing in China ad Asian tiger economies. American industry is excited but at the same time wary of several factors which have to be addressed.”