U.S. to appoint trade representative for India

Monday, 28 April 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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CALIFORNIA: The Bush administration is appointing a special trade representative to deal solely with India, a senior congressman has said.

Republican Rep. Ed Royce of California said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick "has just announced a new U.S. trade representative between U.S. and India. We hope to have more trade between U.S. and India."

He was speaking at the 6,000-strong Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) annual convention here.

Royce, who is the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, also said he was working with Democratic legislators to push for President Bush to visit India.

"I look forward to the visit of President Bush to India." Royce was in former president Bill Clinton's delegation during his historic visit to that country in March 2000.

He said Americans had a lot to learn from India. "I think that after 9/11 and the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament, there was a great realisation in America that it was an attack on democracy."

Today the caucus that he co-chairs has 140 legislators. "My goal is that our strategic partnership should be with the largest democracy," Royce said and noted that he had countered Clinton's view that China was a strategic partner of the U.S.

"One of our goals in the caucus is to strengthen the respect for India that it has earned," Royce said.

In three days of meetings of AAHOA, the attendees have been questioning public speakers, including Clinton's political consultant James Carville about why India is not given its due place in the U.S. as well as a seat in the U.N. Security Council.

"India is our strategic partner and China is our strategic competitor," Royce said he had told Clinton. "India has the ability to keep the peace in South Asia and beyond," he contended.

AAHOA has become a powerful body in the hospitality industry, as Indian Americans, largely of Gujarati origin, own some 35 percent of hospitality properties in this country.

Now AAHOA is stepping into the political arena and making its presence felt on Capitol Hill, not just on industry issues but also on India's concerns.

Rep. Royce is credited with being among those who introduced legislation to lift sanctions against India and to expand military cooperation. He said, "As we sit down to listen and learn from our Indian friends, we need to recognise that they have much in common -- from diversity, to the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and the responsibility to build a better world."

One of the great strengths of the Indian American community, Royce pointed out, was its high level of education.

"Your youth have the highest percentage of degrees...Businesses are being opened by Asians at three times the rate of others. You are creating three times the opportunities others are" in this country, he added.
Source: IANS
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