By Arun Kumar
Washington, Oct 18 (IANS) Going by the buzz in industry circles, easing of US export controls and removal of key Indian units from the banned 'Entities List' could well be the next big thing during President Barack Obama's visit to India.
At present India is denied technology in 11 of the 16 categories, just one short of both Pakistan and China, while most European nations figure in just four categories and Canada faces restrictions on just two counts. India figures on the export control list of the Commerce Department on all three counts of chemical and biological weapons, two of national Security, one of missile technology, and two of regional stability.
It is also denied technology on one of two reasons of nuclear non-proliferation and two of three reasons of crime control. It doesn't figure on just one reason of firearms convention and two of anti-terrorism.
After the signing of the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal and India's avowed emergence as a "strategic partner", analysts see no justification for denying India technology in so many areas.
"I believe they are doing something about it", said Amit Mitra, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) secretary general, who was in the US last week for a meeting of the US-India Trade Forum in New York and for preparatory meetings here ahead of the Obama visit.
"It can indeed be a defining visit, if he can sell defence in return for technology transfer," Mitra told IANS, suggesting that India increase the cap on foreign investment in the defence sector from 26 to 49 percent under tech transfer and indigenisation.
"There is unprecedented interest in India again after the meltdown," he said noting as many as 468 registered for the trade forum meeting with 180 financial institutions participating.
"Really something magical is happening there," say many keen to do business with India.
Besides major windows in defence sales, Mitra also saw great scope for US companies in building up components in security technology, upgrading security infrastructure, bio-fuels, railways, aviation, technology transfer, health, disease management and medical education.
Only two American companies - GE and EMD Caterpillar - are bidders for a diesel locomotive unit with an initial investment of $250 million-$300 million and with a potential total buy of $4.5 billion, Mitra noted.
With a capacity to build 100 engines, it would also create 3,000 jobs, he said, describing it as a "win-win" model.
Infrastructure was also a major area of interest with 1,278 smaller ports and 10 waterways and 36 airports in tier-2 cities requiring upgrades.
Ron Somers, president of the US-India Business Council (USIBC), representing over 300 top US companies investing in India, also looks at Obama's decision to start his first state visit to India with an address to a major business summit in Mumbai as underlining his priority of cultivating deeper commercial ties with India.
The USIBC, he said, aimed to enhance two-way trade, now surpassing $50 billion, spur investment by India into the US, create opportunities for greater US export-led growth of high technology and high-end manufactured goods that will support India's $1.7 trillion infrastructure build-out and foster new frontiers of technology collaboration.
"The scope for cooperation on every level by our companies and their Indian counterparts is limitless," said Somers.