Former US Ambassador to India Frank Wisner Tuesday said there is no doubt in his mind that American businesses do not favour protectionism that is being talked about these days.
"There is no constituency among American businesses for the introduction of protectionism," Wisner said at a panel discussion at the Asia Society.
"We are going to have a good, rigorous battle on our hands (because of this down turn in the economy) and the sooner we move through this crisis, the better, and at that point we need to preoccupy you (India)," Wisner, who left as vice chairman, external relations, of American International Group, to join Patton Boggs, a top lobbying firm, as its senior international affairs adviser to head up its India portfolio, said.
His remarks came during a Asia Society panel discussion on the need for greater Indo-US partnership at the Asia Society, addressed, among others by Sunil Bharti Mittal, past president of Confederation of Indian Industries and leader of the CII delegation who is chairman and group CEO of Bharti Enterprises; C K Birla, chairman, Hindustan Motors Ltd; Tarun Das, chief mentor, CII and chairman of Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd; and Vijay Thadani, CEO, NIIT Ltd.
Wisner said that the United States will be in this fight because it is not just about the US. "It is not just the US that would be subjected to protectionist pressures in an economic downturn. Europe will be affected and even the nations outside these two big economic circles (would be affected)," he said.
"So we would like to work with CII, work with the individual businesses and be able to make India's case as well as America's case," he said.
He said the US would like an open trading system and strong relations with India and a strong basis to pursue the exciting new prospects in agriculture, in biomedicine, technological developments.
"This is where we are going to be together," he said.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Wisner said that there is a great desire on the part of American businesses to do business with Indian companies. "But only one third of the businesses (proposed) have been consummated so far. Naturally, this meeting is very important," he said.