USA working to ensure India is in NSG: Envoy

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"I want to see a US-India FTA ... a strategic view of our economic relationship could eventually lead to a roadmap for a US-India Free Trade Agreement", US Ambassador to India Kenneth I Juster said here on Thursday. Rather investing in each others markets will mutually beneficial, will increase economic interactions and volume of trade.

"Opening India's market further to U.S. trade and investment will spur our collaboration on many emerging technologies that will drive and protect our economies, including those related to advanced manufacturing and cybersecurity", Juster added.

Juster, who was earlier Under Secretary at the US Commerce Department, urged India to take advantage of its growing ties with the US and transform itself as an alternative hub for US business in the Indo-Pacific region. "Accordingly, some companies are downgrading their operations there, while others are looking with great interest at alternative markets".

The US government is planning a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India in an effort to boost two-way trade that now stands at $115 billion.

"We want to promote respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, guarantee freedom of navigation over flight and commerce and other lawful uses of the sea, ensure territorial and maritime disputes are resolved peacefully consistent with worldwide laws", he added.

Talking about the Indo-Pacific region, the envoy said that the US National Security Strategy recognises India as a leading power in region and beyond. He felt that India can seize the strategic opportunity - through trade and investment - to become an alternative hub for USA business in the Indo-Pacific region.

Crude oil prices at 2.5-year high
While product demand is up from a year earlier, robust stockpiles and a coldsnap in the USA could put a damper on demand. On Friday there was no new major outbreak of violence in the country, relieving some of the tension from the market.

India and the United States have been vocal about containing the terror in Afghanistan and spreading harmony in the nation, and the 63-year-old USA diplomat shed light on Pakistan's role achieving that.

Praising Indians, he said 33 per cent of all immigrant-founded start-ups in the USA have Indian founders. "We are a country of immigrants& that has helped drive our economy, made us what we are, that is not going to change". He said that any deportation concerns among the NRI's living in the United States were unfounded.

He said India and the USA can work together in Afghanistan, partner with Japan and Australia in the Indo-Pacific, coordinate their humanitarian assistance, as well as cooperate on connectivity projects in South Asia.

"Over time, we should expand officer exchanges at our war colleges and our training facilities, and even at some point post reciprocal military liaison officers at our respective combatant commands, " he said.

"We want to have a constructive relationship with the Chinese as well".

"Don't think we will get stability in Afghanistan if Pakistan does not positively contribute. But we also want to make it clear that if they are going to be engaged in certain predatory economic behaviour or other activities than there's an alternative set of principles that other countries of the region are going to follow", he said.