Obama win could mean pressure on India to open up more

Last Updated: Wed, Nov 07, 2012 16:00 hrs

New Delhi, Nov 7 (IANS) It would be business after the electoral rhetoric, India's government, politicians and industry said Wednesday after US president Barrack Obama won a second term in office, hoping he will encourage more trade and investment and a strategic partnership between the two countries.

But pressure could also rise on India to expedite big-ticket economic reforms like opening up the insurance, defence and agriculture sectors after liberalisation of the retail trade and ramp up military cooperation, observers said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated Obama on his win and said: "We have not only advanced cooperation across the full spectrum of our bilateral relationship, but also deepened our engagement in the pursuit of global peace, stability and prosperity."

"No doubt that there is much more we can do together to further strengthen the India-US partnership and thereby advance peace and stability, expand mutual economic opportunities, harness the potential of science and technology, innovation and higher education and empower our people to address global challenges."

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram welcomed Obama's victory and hoped that Indo-US relations will get stronger, especially economic relations.

Industry lobbies FICCI and CII also applauded the Obama re-election.

"A historic second term for Obama augurs well for the now established India-US strategic and economic partnership," said R.V. Kanoria, FICCI president.

CII president Adi Godrej said Indian industry is hopeful that both countries will strengthen economic ties by "lowering barriers to trade and investment".

"The 2nd term of a US President is the more fascinating one. With politicking out of the way, it's time to build the real legacy," tweeted Anand Mahindra, managing director of Mahindra Group.

Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw said India's pharmaceutical and software industries could benefit from Obama's healthcare reforms.

"He wants the healthcare system to become efficient, and that is where the IT industry stands to gain. And he wants it to be affordable, and that is how India's generic drug makers stand to gain," she said speaking at the World Economic Forum event in Gurgaon.

The $100 billion IT industry is hoping for the best. Both Kris Gopalakrishnan of Infosys and N. Chandrasekharan of TCS hoped that the Obama administration would a "pragmatic" approach.

One of India's grouse during Obama's first term as president has been the challenges the IT companies faced was the rising visa fees and getting visas for their workers. The Indian government has described these as "highly discriminatory" .

Phaneesh Murthy of iGate Corp, however, said the Obama re-election was not the "best news for India or the IT outsourcing industry."

He said the election rhetoric could continue into 2013 and that would determine the "full implications".

Unemployment was a major issue in the election and Obama had criticised US firms "exporting" jobs, seeking to tax them more and use that money to help those companies that keep jobs at home.

Trade and investment analysts said there would be significant issues for India in the years ahead, such as its immigration concerns and US worries about investment barriers.

Washington sees India is vital for its national interests, both as a big export market for US goods and a strong strategic ally, given China's growing assertion in the Asia-Pacific.

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