Washington: Concerned over the escalating competition from India and China, a top US official has asked the American companies to "flex muscles" and tap the expanding middle class in these countries.

"It is critical we understand that the world has changed. Competition from countries like India and China is more intense," the Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade, Francisco Sanchez, said at the National Association of Counties Annual Conference Location in Portland, Oregon.

"It is time, really past time, for us to flex our muscles and improve the economic competitiveness of the United States," he said.

Sanchez urged the American companies to take benefit of the emerging middle class in these countries.

"We know that there is an expanding global middle class that's expected to add over a billion new consumers over the next 15 years," he said.

"China alone has moved more people out of poverty in the last couple of decade than any civilization in history.

"As people there, and in India and Brazil and countries across the world, realise prosperity that most Americans take for granted, they're going to want the conveniences that come
with middle class life," Sanchez said.

"This past decade saw the slowest average annual job growth since World War II, and that is still true even if you stop measuring before the beginning of the recession in 2008," he said.

"It's easy to understand why. Over the last decade the US has experienced increased competition from other industrialised nations," Sanchez said.

"We know that American companies and workers produce world-class goods and services that can help meet new global demands. But we also know that our competitors aren't simply sitting on the sidelines. Now, this needn't be a zero-sum game," he said.