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US Business Council batting for nuclear deal

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September 25, 2006 17:41 IST
Ron Somers, president, the US-India Business Council in Washington, DC, is spearheading a campaign to ensure that the nuclear deal now before the US Senate comes through, reports The Wall Street Journal newspaper.

Somers, who 'believes the nuclear power pact represents the key to unlocking India's huge economic potential -- and the billions of dollars in business opportunities that would follow for US companies,' is working with several US companies and Indian-American outfits to ensure that the nuclear deal is passed without a hitch by the Senate, the Journal report said.

'The pure fundamentals of India point to an extraordinary opportunity for multinationals,' the report quoted Somers, 51, as saying. 'This is the dawn of a whole new era.'

'Companies including Westinghouse Electric Co, Boeing Co and Ford Motor Co have lined up behind the initiative. Another strong backer, General Electric Co, provided reactors for India's fledgling nuclear program in 1969 before breaking off cooperation when India exploded a nuclear device five years later,' the report said.

Last year, the USIBC hired Washington, DC firm Patton Boggs LLP to lobby US legislators to support the nuclear treaty.

India's plans to seek foreign assistance for producing 20,000 megawatts of nuclear power by 2020, could 'generate $30 billion in sales for US companies that provide nuclear know-how and equipment,' the report quoted Somers as saying.

Also, the Indian Air Force's plans to order 126 fighter jets, estimated at $6 billion, could 'tilt toward US companies if nuclear links are established and barriers to sharing technology can be lowered,' the article quoted Chris Chadwick, vice-president of global strike systems at Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, as saying.

In November, when the nuclear deal is expected to be finalised, the largest-ever American trade delegation -- with 200 companies -- is expected to visit India.

Somers' optimism about India remains high despite having faced several business setbacks in India earlier owing to bureaucratic red-tape and subsidies to farmers, the newspaper said.

Two of his ventures, a Cogentrix Energy plan to set up a coal-fired power plant in Karnataka and later Unocal's plans to set up a gas pipeline grid from Bangladesh, were shelved by bureaucratic hurdles.

Complete Coverage: The India-US nuclear deal

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