US waits for economic reforms by new partner India

By MATTHEW PENNINGTON | June 7, 2011 | 3:12 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama calls U.S. relations with India a defining partnership of the 21st century, but the United States still has a hard time doing business with the world's second most-populous nation.

Ties have improved markedly in recent years, and on Monday India approved a multibillion-dollar defense deal that was announced by Obama on a November visit to the Asian nation.

Still, U.S. firms have struck out in the bidding for an $11 billion jet fighter contract that the president had lobbied for.

India also has been slow to ease barriers to trade and investment that Washington seeks.

In April, India barred imports of technology for a multibillion-dollar Indian government-backed program to boost production of solar energy.