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Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium
Washington, D.C.

11:00 A.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Chairman Chambers, President Aghi, Ambassador Sarna, Ambassador Roemer, distinguished Members of Congress who joint us here today.  It is an honor to join you for the 42nd Annual Leadership Summit of the U.S.-India Business Council.  Give yourselves a round of applause.  This is a great, great annual event.  (Applause.)

I couldn’t be more grateful to join you at this important gathering.  And before I get started, I just left the Oval Office a little bit ago, and the President wanted me to bring greetings from a leader who has already strengthened the bond between the United States and India — the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)

This conference is particularly timely.  As you all know, yesterday President Trump welcomed Prime Minister Modi to the White House.  I was there for most of the meetings.  It was a historic and productive time, and at its conclusion, standing next to the Prime Minister, President Trump declared that India had in his words a “true friend in the White House” — and so do all of our friends from India who are gathered here.  (Applause.)

President Trump recognizes that the United States’ relationship with India is one of the most important strategic relationships in the 21st century.

Our two great nations are bound by friendship, by commerce — so well represented by American and Indian businesses here.  And we’re partners in the fight against global terrorism and as brothers-and-sisters in the cause of freedom and our commitment to democracy.  And today, I say with confidence:  Under the leadership of President Donald Trump, our friendship will grow deeper, our partnership will grow stronger for the benefit of both of our nations and our people — and the world.  (Applause.)

As you well know, commerce is central to both of our nations’ prosperity and well-being; the commerce between us that is.  Fortunately, the United States and India have formed a strong trade relationship in recent years — in no small part thanks to the work of the U.S.-India Business Council over these four decades.

And for more than 40 years, this council has brought together leaders in industry and leaders in public life to “promote bilateral trade,” foster investment, job growth, innovation in both of our nations.  And you’ve succeeded by any stretch of the word.  So why don’t you give yourselves just one more round of applause for promoting a tremendous relationship between two great nations?  (Applause.)

And let me also offer the President and our entire administration’s congratulations to the two winners of this year’s Leadership Award who I just met in the back room — Adi Godrej of the Godrej Group and my friend Andrew Liveris of Dow Chemical Company.  My congratulations to both of you for this well-deserved honor.  (Applause.)

And thanks to the companies represented in this room, the trade relationship between the United States and India is flourishing.  It’s remarkable to think that not even 20 years ago, two-way trade between our nations was less than $20 billion per year.  But by the end of last year, it had grown by more than 500 percent to an annual $115 billion in trade; and U.S. exports to India now support roughly 200,000 American jobs.

The last few years have been particularly noteworthy. Between 2014 and today, American foreign direct investment in India grew from $800 million to $2.4 billion in investments.

And on the other side of the ledger, Indian businesses I’m glad to report are investing in America at an unprecedented rate.  For instance:  Earlier this year, Infosys announced it would hire 10,000 new American workers at four U.S.-based technology centers, one of which will be in my home state of Indiana.  And we thank you for investing and believing in America.  (Applause.)

Our heartfelt appreciation to all the businesses represented here for your investment in our nation’s future.  Yet the truth is the United States and India we believe have only scratched the surface when it comes to bilateral investment and trade.  This council hopes to more than quadruple our two-way trade relationship to more than $500 billion before the decade is out, and the President and I believe that that goal is achievable.

Yesterday, President Trump and Prime Minister Modi committed to expanding and balancing our trade relationship in the years ahead.

For our part, this administration is fully committed to restoring the United States’ reputation as the premier investment destination anywhere in the world.  And let me assure everyone gathered here:  America is open for business once again.  (Applause.)

President Trump has already taken decisive action to make the strongest economy in the world stronger still.  This President has signed more laws to cut through red tape than any President in American history that already have saved businesses up to $18 billion in regulatory costs per year.

President Trump has put a renewed focus on American energy, approving the Keystone and Dakota Pipelines.  And the President is strengthening the American workforce by signing executive action into place to prioritize apprenticeships and vocational training to meet the needs of growing businesses and a growing American economy.

And if you haven’t noticed yet, the American people elected a builder to be President of the United States, and President Trump has already taken steps to rebuild America.  And before we’re done we’re going to rebuild the roads and bridges and harbors and airports of America to the very best in the world.  (Applause.)

And this year, let me assure you:  Working with the Congress, we’ll pass one of the largest tax cuts in American history so businesses from across the world can invest in American jobs, America’s workers, and America’s future.

And there’s one more thing, our President is also even as we speak fighting every day to give the American people the world-class health care they deserve.  And working with this Congress, I can say to the American businesses that are gathered here and all of you who do business in America, we’re going to keep our promise the American people.  We’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare and give the American people the kind of world-class healthcare they deserve.  And we’re going to do it before the summer is out.  (Applause.)

Our hope is that President Trump’s actions give companies in this country great confidence about the future, but also give our friends in India even greater reason to invest in America.

And of course, American business wants to contribute even more to India’s success through exports and investment.  Prime Minister Modi saw American industry’s excitement about India on Sunday when he met with 21 business leaders before his bilateral meeting with our President.  There are many places where this nation’s firms can benefit our great partner.

India is projected to become the world’s third-largest market for planes and passengers.  American companies are already providing airport infrastructure and the airplanes themselves.  I just had the chance to meet with the CEO of SpiceJet who just last week placed an order for 40 brand new Boeing jets, on top of 100 new jets it ordered earlier this year.  I know that American companies are going to continue to give India’s aviation industry the wings it needs to soar.  And let me just take the opportunity, as the President did yesterday, to say thank you to SpiceJet for investing and believing in American workers and American businesses.  (Applause.)

Energy is another area for a more robust partnership.  India boasts the world’s fastest-growing economy.  But it can’t continue without energy, and American producers and grid developers are the best-suited to provide it.  From liquefied natural gas, to nuclear power, to clean coal, to everything in between, American energy and American expertise can help power India’s future.

The final example I’ll mention is in the area of security and defense.  A first-rate global power needs a first-rate military, and the United States will continue to enable the Indian armed forces to obtain the resources and technology it needs to protect the Indian people and support security in the region.  You need look no further than yesterday’s announcement that the United States will sell Sea Guardian UAVs, Apache attack helicopters, and C-17 transports to India.  That process of approval is all underway as we speak.  But I hope it accurately reflects the commitment to mutual security among both of our nations and the importance of our partnership for security.

The bottom line is the United States and India can deepen our commercial bond in many industries and areas.  But to achieve the highest possible benefit, I would suggest with great respect that India must continue to enact the necessary economic reforms to ensure that our trade relationship, as the President said last night over dinner, is both “fair and reciprocal.”

The President and I applaud Prime Minister Modi for his courageous move to simplify and standardize the Goods and Services Tax, the largest tax reform in India’s history.

We support Prime Minister Modi in his effort to strengthen Indiana’s — India’s intellectual property protections, and cut tariffs on manufactured and agricultural goods, and break down the barriers to investment and market access.

But we truly believe with great respect that the time to act is now — because progress in these areas means progress for both our great nations and the more than 1.6 billion people that call them home.

I know the U.S.-India Business Council will continue to play a leading role in promoting pro-growth policies and engaging new commercial partnerships.

And our administration is committed to this goal, as well. As the President announced yesterday, his daughter Ivanka Trump will lead the American delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India this fall.

And I was very humbled when the Prime Minister Modi extended a personal invitation to me to represent the United States.  And we’re already making plans to take him up on his invitation.  (Applause.)  In fact, I told him when I was governor of Indiana one of my ambitions was to be the first governor from Indiana to visit India.  (Laughter.)  I didn’t get it done then, but the Prime Minister and I had a nice chuckle because he told me that the words “India ana” mean “coming to India.”  (Applause.)

The President and I are very confident that with the help of this great council, with the commitment that the President and Prime Minister Modi renewed yesterday, we’re going to usher in a new era of jobs, opportunity, and prosperity for both our countries and for all our people.

But as we all reflect that security is the foundation of our prosperity, and under the leadership of President Trump, the United States will also expand our partnership with India to protect our nations, our citizens, and the values that we cherish.

Yesterday, President Trump reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to our in his words “incredibly important” “security partnership” with India.

We’re proud that India is a Major Defense Partner for the United States.  And as the President said yesterday, “our militaries are working every day and will continue to enhance cooperation,” and working together, we’ll “make great strides in defeating the common threats” that we face.

The United States and India seek the same objectives in the Indo-Pacific region:  prosperity, security, peace.

We both want to uphold a rules-based system of national sovereignty and international law.  We both want lawful commerce to flow unimpeded on the seas and in the air.  (Applause.)

These practices and principles are foundational to prosperity and security across the Indo-Pacific, and the United States is grateful to see India step into its role as a regional security provider and partner.

But our two nations’ mutual interests stretch far beyond the region.  As India has grown, so has its role on the world stage.  And in recognition of this fact, let me assure you: President Trump and our administration fully support India’s permanent membership on a reformed United Nations Security Council.  (Applause.)

In this time of widening challenges and unknowable threats, the United States welcomes India’s strong bilateral relationships with our common friends and partners across the world, such as Japan and Australia, countries across the Middle East and Southeast Asia because we increasingly — all of us — face the same issues and face the same challenges.

Of course, the greatest threat facing the peace and prosperity of Indo-Pacific region is the brutal regime in North Korea.  President Trump and I are grateful for India’s leadership in fully implementing the United Nations’ sanctions and for its commitment to use its growing global leverage to increase diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea.

We must not waver in our resolve.  North Korea’s reckless actions are a threat to us all, and so all of us must continue to step forward to work in close cooperation with one another and all our allies and partners in the region to ensure that we bring the appropriate amount of economic and diplomatic pressure until North Korea permanently abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all.  (Applause.)

Let me also thank India for its continued commitment to stability and security in Afghanistan.  A peaceful Afghanistan is good for India, it’s good for America, and a peaceful Afghanistan is good for the region and the wider world.

And finally, the United States and India are committed to strengthening our partnership in the fight against the greatest evil of our time — the threat of global terrorism.

Like the United States, India is all too familiar with the grave danger posed by radical Islamic terrorists.  These barbarians have struck on Indian soil too many times over the decades, including the horrific attacks in Mumbai nearly a decade ago, claiming the lives of more than 160 innocents, including six Americans.

The United States and India already collaborate to a significant extent.  But in the face of terror networks that are ever-more sophisticated, ever-more dispersed, we will continue to take renewed action to facilitate two-way information and intelligence sharing to confront this threat.

Only by working together can we protect our people from the terrorist threat.  President Trump and Prime Minister Modi have already agreed to strengthen our partnership for the protection of both of our nations and our people, and together, I am convinced in our time, we will drive the cancer of global terrorism from the face of the Earth.  (Applause.)

This is a very exciting time for the relationship between the United States and India.  I could see it in the faces of the two leaders yesterday and in the warm exchanges that took place between our delegations.

As President Trump said just last night, the “future of our partnership has never looked brighter.”  And I believe it.  Long after the cameras left the Blue Room, we had an engaging time together — warm fellowship among friends.  As Prime Minister Modi would say across the table as we talked about issues of mutual interest, he said, we speak to one another as friends.  And we always will.

Every day, the people of India and the people of the America are drawing closer together.  At this very moment, some 4 million Americans trace their heritage back to India already, as the children and grandchildren of immigrants, or as first-generation immigrants themselves.

And truth be told, their impact on America has made a profound difference in the life of our nation, and we celebrate that.  Let’s hear a round of applause for all our Indian Americans.  (Applause.)

For generations, you Indian Americans have raised your families, built businesses, studied and taught in our colleges and universities, made your own mark, large and small, and been an inexorably vital part of the beautiful tapestry of American life.   And we celebrate it.

As I stand before you today, I can’t help but feel a small measure of pride on behalf of the President to think of the first Indian American to serve on the Cabinet of a President of the United States, the Ambassador to the United Nations for our nation, Ambassador Nikki Haley.  (Applause.)

The people of the United States and the people of India already share a friendship — and more than that, we share a future.

I believe our two nations have the power, have the vision, the shared ideals to guide this still-new century to greater prosperity and greater freedom together.  I truly believe it’s our responsibility to help guide countries around the world by our example on the path to prosperity, to guide it on a path to security.  And I believe it is the responsibility of the United States and India to do this together, to guide the 21st century on a path to democracy and freedom.

We hold the future in our hands — but I have faith — that with your help, and the continued energy of all the great men and women who have been a part of this council for some 40 years, with the leadership of President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Modi, and with God’s help, that the best days for America and India are yet to come.

Thank you for the honor of addressing you today.  God bless you all and God bless the nation of India and the United States of America.  (Applause.)

11:20 A.M. EDT