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Press release on the visit of Shri Praful Patel, Minister of State (IC) for Civil Aviation to Washington DC

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Washington, DC
March 25, 2010

Shri Praful Patel, Minister of State with independent charge for Civil Aviation visited Washington DC on March 25, 2010. 

During the visit, Minister Patel met with Secretary of Commerce Mr. Gary Locke, Secretary of Transportation Mr. Ray LaHood, and Federal Aviation Administrator Mr. Randy Babbitt. 

In the meetings, both sides acknowledged the positive role of aviation in improving connectivity between the two countries, since the signing of the Open Skies Agreement in 2005. The civil aviation sector had emerged as the fastest growing component of bilateral trade, accounting for about 15 % of US exports to India. Secretary Locke as well as Secretary LaHood told the Minister that US companies were very impressed with the growth displayed by India’s aviation sector and were keen to contribute to the growth. Minister Patel said that these companies needed to show a long-term commitment beyond just exporting to India; they should seriously explore the possibility of establishing manufacturing bases and investing in aviation infrastructure like airports. He also urged Secretary Locke to explore the possibility of liberalizing the export controls regime for India.

Minister Patel invited both the Secretaries to visit India to see for themselves the numerous opportunities that India offered for mutually beneficial partnerships in general and in aviation, in particular. 

Minister Patel also addressed a luncheon round table at the US Chamber of Commerce where a large number of the major US companies engaged in aviation-related activities were present. He gave them an update on recent developments and encouraged them to deepen their technological collaboration with India. The event was organized by the US India Business Council. 
In the evening, Minister Patel addressed a 200-strong gathering of US government officials, US business representatives, NRIs , and Indian Americans at the celebration ‘Air India's Capital to Capital Connectivity: Bringing Washington and Delhi Closer’; a cultural reception organized by the US India Business Council with a few partners to publicize the new Air India link between Washington DC and New Delhi. Congressman Jim McDermott was a special guest on the occasion. The service, that commenced from December 1, 2009, provides the only single-plane link between the two capitals.

Background: As both the countries take their bilateral strategic partnership to a new level of multifaceted and a broad based relationship, there is a shared appreciation of the importance of robust cooperation in the aviation sector as it makes possible the flow of people, goods and services. This led to the establishment of the bilateral Aviation Cooperation Programme, a trilateral cooperation among the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the Federal Aviation Administration, US Trade Development Administration and US industry which has been most successful. The number of companies in the programme has gone to 32 from 7 at inception. The US has participated actively in both the Civil Aviation exhibitions that have been organized in India. The second bilateral Aviation Summit held in Washington DC in December 2009 had large participation from both sides and provided an excellent forum for dialogue and cooperation.