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Indo-US Nuclear Deal Off to a Flying Start

Nuclear Trade MissionThe Indo-US civilian nuclear energy deal has got off to a flying start.  This was indicated by Steve Hucik, senior Vice President, GE-Hitachi, who led an American nuclear trade mission on a five-day visit to India in the second week of January…

Hucik told Asian Nuclear Energy at the end of the mission’s five-day visit of the country in Mumbai: “This trade mission, which is a result of the Indo US nuclear deal, will give a flying start to the Indo-US nuclear commerce.”

The first-ever commercial nuclear trade mission of its kind to visit India since the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) gave a green signal for the country’s global commercial nuclear trade held discussions with the Indian nuclear establishment and private sector players keen on setting up joint ventures with their US counterparts.

The mission was initiated by the US-India Business Council (USIBC), the Nuclear Energy Institute and the U.S. Department of Commerce. It comprised  more than 60 senior executives representing around 30 world-leading commercial nuclear companies. It was also the largest ever mission mounted by USIBC.

Hucik described the nuclear trade mission’s India visit as a satisfying experience. He said the mission members had met Plannig Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and other important ministers and politicians in New Delhi.

“There is tremendous potential for business opportunities in the Nuclear Power sector in India for the US Commercial Nuclear Industry. There have been very positive signs from the Indian Government and Indian Industry in partnering together in developing the nuclear reactors in India,” he said.

The Mission delegates also met top executives of the Nuclear Power Corporation, the National Thermal Power Corporation, and other leading public-sector undertakings. Also significant were the mission members’ meetings with their counterparts among India’s rising global companies via the CII-USIBC Joint Task Force on Commercial Nuclear Cooperation, a group set up to identify and clear obstacles to U.S.-Indian commercial nuclear trade.

Hucik said: “India is looking forward to building next generation nuclear plants which have state-of-the-art technology and modern equipment and this trade mission will make this possible through collaborations between corporate giants of India and the US.  India will also discover that smaller, modular plants may be more economical in the long run. NTPC and NPCIL are cash rich companies with very strong balance sheets which is an advantage to India.”

The CII-USIBC Joint Task Force identified policy issues on both sides requiring attention in order for India to move toward its ambitious goals for expanding its nuclear generating capacity to 30,000MW by 2020 and 60,000 MW by 2030. To enable Indian and U.S. private-sector companies alike to take part in the expansion, issues relating to nuclear liability and intellectual property protection, among others, need attention in India. On the U.S. side, the group has previously discussed U.S. export licensing procedures and the potential for U.S. companies to enter into commercial relationships with Indian manufacturing, contracting and service firms.

“The robust presence here of the U.S. commercial nuclear industry, so soon after the unfortunate events in Mumbai, speaks to the commitment of our companies to partner with India in the coming nuclear renaissance,” said Ted Jones, Director for Policy Advocacy at USIBC.

“We have considerable work yet to do, but we are happy to be at the stage of commercial engagement,” Jones added.

The U.S. commercial nuclear industry leads the world in size, performance, innovation, and engineering worldwide. The US is the largest generator of nuclear electric power in the world – with 27 percent of the world’s total installed capacity and nearly double the number of reactors as France. The U.S. also produces at roughly 1/2 to 1/3 of the cost in other major countries. In recent decades, US reactor companies and civil nuclear engineering companies have remained at the forefront of innovation and engineering worldwide.