US Ambassador to India Kenneth I. Juster on Wednesday said India should seize the strategic opportunity through trade and investment to become a major hub for US business in the Indo-Pacific region.
Juster said the US seeks to assist India's effort to build up "its indigenous defence capabilities as well as enhance the inter-operability of our two forces" as major defence partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
"India should seize the strategic opportunity -- through trade and investment -- to become a major hub for US business in the Indo-Pacific region," he said while addressing a session hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce (Eastern Region) and the Bengal Chamber of Commerce here.
According to him, India is in the midst of an economic surge as it integrates more into the global economy, and the US trade and investment relationship with India continues to grow.
"Bilateral trade has gone from approximately $20 billion in 2001 to $115 billion in 2016. Of course, given the size of our respective markets, there is still plenty of room to expand these numbers," he said.
Juster asserted there were many benefits in expanding the bilateral economic relationship and making India a regional hub for the US business.
"Increased openness to US goods and services and an expanded presence of US companies will also stimulate private sector investment in improved infrastructure and overall connectivity," he said, adding the US companies had innovative technologies that could support India's goal to create 100 smart cities.
"In a similar vein, we should enhance our efforts to promote connectivity within South Asia, which is one of the least economically integrated regions in the world," he said.
Juster also pointed out that the US' environment technology could play a key role in helping India address air pollution, energy efficiency and other challenges.
He also said 200 American companies were operating in eastern India through direct investments.
"Last June, 10 delegates from east India were part of our India delegation to the USA Summit and we are hoping to double that number for this year's summit," he added.