By Jarrett Renshaw
(Reuters) -Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden met in Washington on Thursday and several agreements were to be announced to strengthen economic and diplomatic ties between the two countries and highlight new private sector investments.
The following is a roundup of the major announcements:
The Biden administration will make it easier for Indians to live and work in the United States. The State Department could announce as soon as Thursday that a small number of Indians and other foreign workers on H-1B visas will be able to renew those visas in the U.S. without having to travel abroad, one source said, part of a pilot program that could be expanded in coming years.
The United States intends to open new consulates in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. India is opening a new consulate in Seattle this year and will soon announce two new consulates in the United States.
CHIPMAKER TO INVEST IN INDIA
U.S. memory chip firm Micron Technology said on Thursday it would invest up to $825 million in a new chip assembly and test plant in Gujarat, its first factory in India. Micron said that with support from the Indian central government and from the state of Gujarat, the total investment in the plant will be $2.75 billion. Of that, 50% will come from the Indian central government and 20% from the state of Gujarat.
U.S. semiconductor toolmaker Applied Materials (AMAT.O) will invest $400 million over four years in a new engineering center in India, the company said on Thursday.
United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the two nations have agreed to terminate six outstanding disputes at the World Trade Organization. India also agreed to remove retaliatory tariffs, which it had imposed in response to the U.S. Section 232 national security measures on steel and aluminum, on U.S. products, including chickpeas and apples.
India joined the Minerals Security Partnership (MSP), a US-led partnership to create critical energy minerals supply chains. India will join 12 other partner countries, plus the European Union.
India’s Epsilon Carbon Limited will invest $650 million in a greenfield electric vehicle battery component factory, hiring over 500 employees over the course of five years.
SOLAR POWER INVESTMENT
A new venture backed by Indian solar panel maker Vikram Solar Ltd (VIKO.NS) said on Thursday it will invest up to $1.5 billion in the U.S. solar energy supply chain, beginning with a factory in Colorado next year. The newly formed company, VSK Energy LLC, will aid the U.S. push to build a clean energy manufacturing sector to compete with China.
General Electric’s aerospace unit said on Thursday it has signed an agreement with India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd to make fighter jet engines for the Indian Air Force. The “historical” agreement includes the potential joint production of GE Aerospace’s F414 engines in India and the engines will be used to power Tejas fighter jets, GE said.
India’s defense ministry has approved the procurement of armed MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones, sources told Reuters earlier this month. India will buy 31 drones made by General Atomics worth slightly over $3 billion.
The MQ-9Bs will be assembled in India, a joint statement said, and U.S. manufacturer General Atomics will also establish new facility in India.
India agreed to join the U.S.-led Artemis Accords on space exploration and to work with NASA on a joint mission to the International Space Station in 2024.
India and the United States established a Joint Indo-U.S. Quantum Coordination Mechanism to facilitate joint research between the public and private sectors across both countries.
(Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Heather Timmons and Grant McCool)