Chennai: The US on Monday said several recent policy decisions by India were discriminatory to foreign companies and have "dampened sentiment" about its investment climate.

"The adoption of manufacturing policies discriminatory to foreign companies and the inclusion of retroactive tax provisions in the Finance Bill are two examples," US Ambassador to India Nancy J Powell said.

Voicing concern over challenges to trade and investment between the two nations, she called for a level playing field for US companies doing business with India.

Powell said she was committed to ensuring that US companies can compete on a level playing field in India and operate in the same open and fair environment that Indian firms enjoy in the US.

She was addressing the Indo American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) and American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) members here.

Powell said she had met US and Indian businessmen in Washington before her arrival and they voiced concerns over high tariff and non-tariff barriers, restrictions on foreign investment, lack of transparency and defence offset requirements.

Recently, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee encouraging him to reassure foreign investors that India would continue to welcome foreign capital by "advancing important economic reforms," she said.

Powell added that India and the US were "poised to sign an additional eight billion USD in Direct Commercial and Foreign Military Sales", through which India would assume a larger leadership role in the region and effectively respond to security concerns and humanitarian relief operations.

Noting US-India partnership in the defence sector has experienced one of the highest growth rates in the region, she said, "With the C-17, C-130J sale, we have more than doubled our total Foreign Military Sales and posted sales making India the third largest FMS market for 2011."

Powell also said Air India's purchase of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft would be a significant boost for US jobs and exports as well as the Indian aviation sector.

"The fuel-efficient Dreamliners are a key component of Air India's restructuring plan as India positions itself to become a global aviation hub," she added.

Observing that the bilateral trade in goods and services was expected to reach USD 100 billion this year, she said the two countries were engaged in technical discussions on a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) that would help foster investment opportunities.

Powell said Washington’s recent announcement of a new model BIT has contributed to the active advancement of BIT negotiations between the two countries and "we are expecting a new round to kick off very soon".

"A BIT would enhance transparency and predictability to investors, and support economic growth and job creation in both our countries," she said.

India has become one of the fastest growing sources of investment in the US, creating well-paid jobs for tens of thousands of Americans, she said, adding that nearly 50 percent of the high-tech Start-ups in Silicon Valley and Washington are owned by Indians or Indian-Americans.

Powell said reduction of barriers to foreign investment can enable US companies help India accomplish ambitious goals.

She cited a McKinsey report that said India needed USD 143 billion investments in health care, USD 392 billion in transportation infrastructure and USD 1.25 trillion in energy production by 2030.

She said her objective is to bolster bilateral trade and investment, expand defence cooperation and enhance ties in international fora, counter-terrorism and global threats.


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