US-India Defence Trade to touch USD 18 bn: Alan R Shaffer
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US-India Defence Trade to touch USD 18 bn: Alan R Shaffer

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Bengaluru, Feb 20: US bilateral Defence trade with India is expected to touch USD 18 billion this year, Mr Alan R Shaffer, US Deputy Under Secretary Defence Acquisition said here today.

Addressing the captains of Indian Industry, he said that this will be the largest U.S. delegation to ever attend Aero India. Nearly 100 military and civilian members, and 28 U.S. companies are participating, highlighting the continued growth of the defense relationship with India. "I am here because the U.S. is committed to strengthening our defense and security partnership with India. U.S. bilateral defense trade with India, essentially zero in 2008, will reach an estimated $18 billion later this year. India is the largest democracy, and the United States is the largest economy. Our shared values and interests strengthen our ability to advance security and prosperity together", he added.

Earlier Mr Baba Kalyani, President, SIDM and Chairman, CII National Committee on Defense stated that defense relationship has emerged as a major pillar of India-US strategic partnership and a key driver of the overall bilateral relationship since 2005. In the last 15 years, there has been a steady increase in policy engagement, defense trade, joint exercises and cooperation between India and USA which is transforming the security architecture of the region. In addition to the Major Defense Partner designation in 2016, last August the U.S. government granted India Strategic Trade Authority Tier 1 designation, providing India with greater supply chain efficiencies and the same authorization as Japan, South Korea and Australia.

He said that the U.S. has become India’s second largest supplier of major equipment like P-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, C-130, C-17 Transport Aircraft, M777 Howitzers, Apache and Chinook Helicopters etc. The defense relationship has today matured to a point where USA should consider India as key partner in exploring co-production and co-development of defense technology and platforms. The recently concluded “India-US 2+2” 2018 Dialogue, signing of COMCASA, inclusion of India to STA-1 bringing it at par with NATO allies for technology transfer and changing the name of US pacific command to INDOPACOM has reaffirmed the strategic importance of India’s designation as a Major Defense Partner (MDP) of the United States.

He gave an overview of the Policy Initiatives of the Government of India and the business opportunities available in defense sector in the country as well as highlighted issues that impact business partnerships between US & Indian industry. India contributes 3.7 per cent of the global military expenditure and has the Fifth largest budget for defense sector, amounting to US 43 billion per annum. India’s Defense Production Policy highlights 13 major weapon-system categories such as Fighter Aircraft, Medium & Lift helicopters, Warships, Land Combat Vehicles, Missile Systems, Gun Systems, Small Arms, etc. where the country aspires to achieve total self-reliance by 2025. This clearly indicates a huge opportunity for US and Indian companies to partner together and create capabilities within India. It also makes it essential to remove hindrances to trade and collaborations, it’s important to create smoother channels for procurement, build faster clearance processes to boost the defense supply chain ecosystem between our countries.

Some of the top industry players in the defense sector including L&T, Bharat Forge, Mahindra Group, Tata Advance System, Adani Defense, Samtel, Alpha Design, etc. were present in the meeting. Participants discussed ways to further deepen and increase B2B and B2G interaction to help deepen this critical partnership. (UNI)

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