U.S.-India Industry Working Group on Defense Technology Holds First Meeting
The U.S.-India industry working group on defense technology, organized under the auspices of the High Tech Cooperation Group (HTCG), held its first meeting in Bangalore, India on February 10, 2005. U.S. Ambassador David C. Mulford and Major General H. S. Sehgal from India's Ministry of Defense attended the event organized by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC).
Ambassador Mulford noted during the meeting that the U.S. is committed to an enduring relationship with India in all areas -- strategic and military, economic and scientific, educational and cultural -- and that the purpose of this HTCG meeting is to identify specific new opportunities for cooperation in the defense area. Ambassador Mulford stressed that as the U.S.-Indian military relationship expands the U.S. will seek new opportunities to partner with India. He said that commercial military sales to India tripled from $5.6 million in 2003 to $17.7 million in 2004, and are projected to increase to $64 million in 2005.
The HTCG, formed in November 2002, comes under the umbrella of the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP), a joint initiative announced in January 2004 by President Bush and former Prime Minister Vajpayee to open new avenues of collaboration between the U.S. and India in high technology, civil space and nuclear activities and dialogue on missile defense. Its primary goal is to promote high-technology trade, by focusing on cooperative steps that the United States and India can take to create the appropriate economic, legal, and structural environments to increase trade.
Since President Bush lifted the last sanctions against India in 2001, the U.S. Government has approved more than 700 export licenses for direct commercial defense sales to India. Each year since then, there has been an increase in the export of controlled dual-use items to India, with the approval rate for dual-use license applications currently at or above 90%.