Tuesday, September 23, 2008

US-India 123 Agreement Gains Support

Us-India 123 AgreementWith conversations in DC being dominated by the federal bailout of the financial industry, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the White House later this week runs the risk of being overshadowed. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is taking notice; sending this letter to members of Congress.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing more than three million businesses of every size, sector and region, strongly supports the U.S.-India 123 Agreement and urges Congress to approve it before the close of the 110th Congress. The U.S.-India civil nuclear initiative will bring India into the international nuclear nonproliferation mainstream and enhance the safety of India’s civil program. The initiative will also help to revitalize the U.S. nuclear industry and create thousands of high-tech American jobs.

Congress affirmed India’s worthiness as a partner in civil nuclear trade in December 2006 when it passed the “Henry J. Hyde United States India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act” by overwhelming bipartisan margins. Since then, sensitive issues relating to nonproliferation have been carefully considered and unanimously resolved by the 35 governors of the IAEA and the 45 member nations of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

India’s civil nuclear program commenced operation when its first reactor, made by General Electric, began producing nuclear power in 1961. With India’s 34-year nuclear isolation now history, the opportunity for U.S. companies today is tremendous, with an expected 30,000 to 60,000 MWe of new nuclear generating capacity by 2030, representing a potential $150 billion of new investment. If U.S. companies are allowed to compete, a modest share of that business could support 250,000 high-tech American jobs. Moreover, the nuclear business would be a fraction of the broader commercial gain across all sectors after this foundation, established of mutual trust and respect, is laid.

It is crucial that Congress act. French and Russian firms are already working in India, yet U.S. firms cannot engage until Congressional approval of the 123 Agreement.
Congress has a historic opportunity to strengthen the growing partnership between the world’s oldest and largest democracies and support thousands of U.S. jobs in the process. The Chamber strongly urges the House and Senate to approve this historic initiative before the close of the 110th Congress.

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