Minister Piyush Goyal at 2nd Indo-US Services Summit organised by Indo American Chamber of Commerce-NIC

New Delhi : Terming India and US as natural partners, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Mr. Piyush Goyal on Saturday said that the services trade will play a major role in the relationship between India and US going forward and strengthen the bilateral economic ties, in line with the significant geopolitical and strategic ties between the two countries.

The Minister was speaking at the inaugural session of 2nd Indo-US Services Summit: “Leveraging Services Sector to Trigger Post –COVID -19 Economic Recovery”, organised by Indo American Chamber of Commerce-NIC.

The session focused on the role the services sector can play in the post-Covid scenario and the new avenues in which both the countries can partner including legal services, hospitality, tourism, along with growth prospects for the already robust IT sector of the country which caters significantly to the US.

Noting that the services sector holds a lot of promise going forward, Mr. Goyal said: “While on the geopolitical or strategic front, India and the US are working together to provide peace and stability in the region, I think the services trade will play a very important role in our relations. It has played a greater role in the past, it has led to greater people-to-people cooperation and engagement.”

The Minister also stressed on the fact that both India and US have strong similarities in terms of the values such as vibrant democracy, liberty and policy making. He noted that services exports have grown multifold in the past two decades from $17 million to $205 million and said: “No other business in the world would have posted this kind of growth.”

Observing that both the countries can help each other in sectors in which they have comparative advantage, the Commerce Minister said: “US is a hub of innovation, technology, research, quality education and so much more. India has skilled and intelligent manpower, both technology and managerial, and we provide at competitive prices.”

Mr. Goyal was of the view that uniting the strengths of both the countries will form an “unbeatable combination”.

Mr. Michael Rosenthal, the Director, North India, US Embassy was of the view that there is a place to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities in the services sector today. “It has the potential to unlock multi-trillion dollar growth which can create symbiotic development in our shared Indo-Pacific region,” he said.

He also said that most experts believe that the services sector can be the key driver of such growth post the pandemic as the sector includes multiple activities. It is the largest sector in global economies and is especially important in developing economies, Rosenthal added.

In his welcome address of Dr. Lalit Bhasin, Summit Chair & Executive Vice President, Indo-American Chamber of Commerce said that the first services’ summit, last year, held amidst the Covid -19 outbreak, helped in taking stock of the impact of the pandemic and suggest policy tailwinds to address upfront the economic disruptions created by one of the most potent viral infections the world ever faced.

He noted that there is a growing realization now that to get over the ill-effects of the pandemic, there should be cooperation among countries at multi-levels than ever before, particularly in services domains like healthcare, education and creating electronic platforms that can value add to the governance and making peoples’ interfaces safe.

“The first summit was held when the pandemic was raring to engulf the whole world. Hopefully, the second summit is happening when there are positive signs of pandemic petering out. Sir, we look forward to your matured advice and guidance on how our organization can play a pivotal role in facilitating the post Covid-19 recovery vibes,” Dr. Bhasin said.

Talking of the recent major development in the Indo-US relations, Mr. Raman Roy, Regional President, IACC-NIC, mentioned the recent visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to New Delhi and discussions with the Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs.

He also drew attention to the fact that the US GDP grew 1.6 per cent in the second quarter of the year, up from 1.5 per cent in the first three months of the year.

“The growth, fueled by strong consumer spending and robust business investment, brought output, adjusted for inflation, back to its pre-pandemic level. That is welcome news amidst all concerns and challenges that we faced in the last almost two years. The US economic growth is a bellwether for the rest of the world,” said Roy, who is also the Founder of Indian Angel Network and Former Chairman, NASSCOM.

Citing the strides in the healthcare and legal services amid the pandemic, Mr. Rohit Kochhar, Regional Vice President, IACC-NIC said that the way services sector has leveraged technology to reinvent itself is a shining example of our creativity and innovation.

While the pandemic has struck crushing blows to industries and economies across the globe, Mr. Kochhar, who is also the Managing Partner at Kochhar & Co.said, “Time has come for us to create, ideate and innovate and write our own script for the path to recovery. The services Sector will undoubtedly be the torchbearer for this new journey of hope and resurgence.”

Regarding the importance of the services sector in the economic recovery, he noted that the Indian services sector accounts for 55% of the country’s total GDP and globally, services represent two-thirds of economic output, and more than half of the world’s jobs. The significance of the services sector therefore cannot be over-emphasised, and the way this sector has braved the Covid storm is really commendable, he added.

The virtual summit 2nd Indo-US Services Summit on Leveraging Services Sector to Trigger Post –COVID 19 Economic Recovery, which involves stakeholders from India and the US is a step towards creating newer ideas to ensure recovery of the sector.

The major focus areas for the discussions include Information Technology, travel, tourism and hospitality, healthcare, energy and media & entertainment.

Some of the sessions during the summit would be on –“Living with COVID – Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow” and “India’s 450GW renewable plan for Climate Change Mitigation a holy grail” among others.