With bilateral trade between India and the US reaching $115 billion last year, US is now India’s “number one trade partner”, a US diplomat said here on Tuesday. “The United States is now India’s number one trade partner and US exports of goods in services to India support more than 200,000 US jobs,” US Consul General in Chennai Robert G Burgess said at the inaugural session of “Unlocking US-India Trade Potential”, a two-day trade conference being held in the city by US Consulate General in Chennai. The bilateral trade between the countries that expanded to nearly $115 billion in 2016 was an “all-time high”, said Burgess.

“We are seeing cooperation expand in new areas. Bilateral defence trade has risen from near zero to more than $15 billion in the last decade. We aim for that upward trajectory to continue,” he said, adding India and the US are “natural and highly influential partners”. Burgess said that last month, there was the first export of US crude oil to India in more than 40 years, which could add $2 billion annually to bilateral trade. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had visited India on October 24, has laid out an “expansive plan” to take the US-India partnership to “new heights” not just for the duration of this administration, but for the next 100 years, he said.

Nearly four million Americans of Indian descent call the US their home, Burgess said, adding, “Over 600 American companies operate in India and Bengaluru hosts the largest concentration of US businesses in India” Tillerson had noted the exchange of technologies and ideas between Bengaluru and Silicon Valley is “changing the world”, Burgess added. “He (Tillerson) made clear that the US will work with India to provide crucial technologies to enhance its capacity to contribute to regional security.” The conference, being held in the city on November 7-8 is timed ahead of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), which will be co-hosted by India and the US in Hyderabad on November 28-30.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and advisor to US President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump will be present at the GES 2017, along with hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors from both the countries.