Elevating the U.S.-India Trade and Economic Relationship

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The U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce welcome President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and look forward to collaborating with the new administration. Under their leadership, we expect continued growth in the U.S.-India commercial relationship. The United States and India share a common set of values, robust democratic systems, and cultures of entrepreneurship, as well as longstanding people-to-people ties that make our countries natural partners. As leaders around the globe reevaluate global trade and investment ties, the United States and India can and should do more to achieve the shared goal of $500 billion in two-way trade.

The U.S.-India commercial relationship has seen fast-paced growth over the past decade, with bilateral goods and services trade growing 12.6 percent in 2019 to reach $146.1 billion. Still, the relationship holds significant untapped potential. Business-friendly policies can unlock upwards of $150 billion in new trade over the next four years, as resolution of regulatory issues for both U.S. and Indian companies opens the door for more expansive growth.

USIBC stands ready to support the Biden administration on work to develop the economic policies that will transform our economies and create millions of high-quality jobs at home and abroad. On behalf of the USIBC Board of Directors and our member companies, USIBC recommends the administration consider the following “5 Big Ideas” as it charts a way forward on one of the country’s most important bilateral relationships: the U.S.-India partnership.

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An occasional white paper by the U.S.-India Business Council and ELP

July 2020

COVID-19 has revealed the vulnerabilities of well-established international supply chains and acted as a catalyst for companies to reconfigure value chain networks with a focus on resiliency and reliability.  With India – and the rest of the world – still combating an unprecedented global pandemic, it is more important than ever to implement policies and practices that ensure the safety of our citizens, support economic reopening, and create a business environment that will support strong future growth.

To that end, the U.S. – India Business Council (USIBC) and Economic Laws Practice (ELP) conducted a survey of USIBC member companies to solicit recommendations on the policy reforms, regulations, and incentives that will make India a more attractive investment destination. The USIBC membership includes some of the world’s largest multinational companies, and this report represents a cross-section of those companies, with inputs drawn from every major sector.

USIBC and our members have worked extensively with the Government of India (GoI) to achieve shared economic and development goals. This report seeks to continue that partnership and support the inbound investment that can serve as a foundation for future economic growth and prosperity.

Read the report: Positioning India to Capture Global Supply Chains & Grow Economic Opportunity

USIBC Executive Delegation to DefExpo 2020

USIBC led an Executive Mission to DefExpo 2020, the 10th edition of the biennial mega defense exhibition of the Minister of Defence, Government of India at Lucknow from February 5-8, 2020. The mission met with key officials from the Ministry of Defense, as well as the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The mission focused on raising awareness within the Indian government of the work U.S. defense companies are doing in India and the enduring importance of the bilateral strategic and defense relationship. Across the board, defense officials emphasized that the Indian government has received USIBC’s policy submissions, heard member suggestions, and incorporated recommendations on issues essential to deepening U.S.-India defense and aerospace collaboration. Meetings also focused on raising awareness around new opportunities for U.S.-India partnership, following the signing of the Industrial Security Annex (ISA) to the bilateral General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) at the most recent U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue; India’s designation a Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1) country in 2018; and the incorporation of industry players in defense co-development and co-production under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) framework.

USIBC is grateful to Dennis D. Swanson, Vice President, International Sales, Global Sales and Marketing, Defense, Space & Security and Boeing Global Services, and Dave Sutton, Director for Asia, Lockheed Martin, whose leadership of the DefExpo 2020 Delegation was critical to the mission’s success.  The delegation also included representatives from BAE, Continental Carriers, General Atomics, Jacobs, L3Harris, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Telephonics and Textron.

USIBC Defense & Aerospace Meetings & Interactions

For participating members, DefExpo 2020 was an opportunity to showcase the best U.S. industry can offer to the Government of India. The mission conducted a series of high-impact meetings, including the following:

Major topics of discussion included defense offsets, Defense Procurement Procedure, indigenous content development, foreign direct investment (FDI) in the defense sector, Critical Defense Technology Transfer, flexibility in standard DPP contracts, intellectual property rights (IPR), ease of doing business, the Strategic Partnership Model, Defense Industrial Corridors and the linking of Make in India to the creation of a defense manufacturing ecosystem in India.

U.S. Defense Industry Contributions towards ‘Make in India’

USIBC Session at DefExpo 2020

USIBC and the Ministry of Defence organised a session on the sidelines of DefExpo 2020, focused on the U.S. defense industry and ‘Make in India.’ Hon. Defense Minister Shri Rajnath Singh and Deputy Defense Minister Shri Shripad Yesso Naik delivered the program’s keynote remarks.  Minister Singh emphasized that the United States and India have shared common values and principles in promoting global security, stability, and prosperity. These are not only showcased through close bilateral ties but also through trade, investment, and connectivity. The U.S.-India defense relationship has expanded significantly over the past decade, with India conducting more military exercises with the United States among other collaborations.

Deputy Defense Minister Naik noted the bilateral defense relationship has progressed from an exclusively buyer-seller relationship to a partnership focused on co-production, co-development and technology collaboration. He highlighted that under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, India is building a robust defense manufacturing base and U.S. companies will be important partners as India connects with the global aerospace and defense supply chain. In addition, Andhra Pradesh Minister of Industry and Commerce Shri Mekapati Goutham Reddy spoke on the defense and aerospace hub that the AP government is developing, and emphasized the government’s desire to see participation from U.S. industry.

The session also included remarks by Dennis D. Swanson, Vice President, International Sales, Global Sales and Marketing, Defense, Space & Security and Boeing Global Services; Dave Sutton, Director for Asia, Lockheed Martin; David Park, Regional Director, International Business, BAE Systems Inc.; and Capt Dan Fillion, OCD, U.S. Embassy.

The U.S.-India Business Council hosted an automotive roundtable on January 31, focused on developing an advocacy agenda for the motorcycle, passenger vehicle and commercial vehicle sectors. USIBC organized the roundtable as the first in a series designed to convene industry leaders from both U.S. and Indian companies. Speakers included USIBC Senior Director Jasjit Singh; U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) Senior Vice President Jonathan Weinberger; Alliance for Automotive Innovation Chief Policy Officer David Schwietert; and Ola Electric Mobility Co-Founder Anand Shah.

The session began with a presentation on automotive sector growth in the United States and India, the world’s largest and fourth largest automotive markets. As outlined below, auto markets are considerably different in the U.S. and India, reflecting the countries’ labor and fuel costs, as well as divergent consumer preferences. The roundtable focused on core auto issues including connected cars, privacy, content and auto-IT, and built on discussions held during USIBC’s connected car delegation to the Indian Mobile Congress (IMC) last year.

Held just a day before the announcement of India’s Union Budget 2020-2021, the session did not consider Budget implications – although the February 1 proposals offered little support for India’s struggling auto sector. Industry leaders had previously called for a reduction in GST on automotive goods to compensate for the hike in prices during the BS6 transition, clarity on a long-overdue scrappage policy, and incentives for manufacturers of electric vehicles and batteries. Instead, the budget increased custom duties on a range of both traditional and electric vehicles.

Session Highlights

U.S. Market: Participants emphasized a softening of the U.S. auto market in 2019, with trends including a rise in average vehicle age, escalating prices and a growing consumer preference for leasing instead of ownership. U.S. consumers increasingly choose vehicles based on fuel economy and utility, noted Alliance for Automotive Innovation Chief Policy Officer David Schwietert, as demonstrated by growing sales and registration in the light truck category. Amid this changing auto landscape, Schwietert called for industry and government to re-evaluate how regulation affects consumer spending.

Regulatory Headwinds: In the United States, industry faces significant uncertainty around federal regulation and incentives. This uncertainty is compounded by ongoing litigation between the state of California and the U.S. federal government over issues like greenhouse gas regulation. At issue is California’s stringent limits on vehicle carbon pollution, which exceed federal mandates. Automotive industry leaders have long urged clarity on state-level regulations, noting that uncertainty and instability limits businesses’ ability to make strategic investment and manufacturing decisions.

Indian Market Disruptions: Indian’s automotive market is expanding at a time of major disruption in the energy, electrification and mobile technology industries. Participants noted that continued growth in the consumer vehicle sector requires better regulation of congestion, traffic and parking in Indian cities. In addition, as India transitions to more stringent emissions norms, many consumers are postponing their vehicle purchases and seeking autos that will meet the new standard. (Note: India will formally transition to the Bharat Stage VI emission standard for all light-duty vehicles, heavy-duty vehicles, two-wheelers and three-wheelers in April 2020.)  Amid these challenges, ride-sharing companies are increasing their market share and lowering costs by switching to electric vehicles. The overall higher cost to purchase EVs is mitigated for drivers in the ride-sharing market, given that these drivers typically use their vehicles more frequently than most vehicle owners and can recoup the costs more quickly through lower fuel prices. These trends all contribute to an uncertain future long-term for India’s personal auto market.

Autonomous Cars and Electric Vehicles: In the U.S., technology innovation has made self-driving technology increasingly sophisticated. Still, the autonomous vehicle industry faces challenges due to a stream of regulatory requirements that complicate the process of bringing a fully automated car to market. So far, Waymo, Aptiv and General Motors are industry leaders with regards to full automation. In India, the government has cited electric vehicle (EV) adoption as a key to lowering emissions and meeting development goals. Despite this goal, the inclusion of a five percent duty on EVs and EV components in the 2020-21 Budget is likely – if enacted – to raise the cost of EV manufacturing. This additional cost would make EVs more expensive for consumers, working against the government’s desire to orient the automotive industry towards more environmentally friendly vehicles.

The Way Forward: The automotive industry plays a critical role in driving economic growth and job creation across both India and the United States. With both countries likely to be leaders in the sector, participants agreed on the need for clearer regulation, logistics standards and policies that support growth and innovation in the sector. A future trade agreement between the countries could facilitate increased foreign direct investment (FDI) into India’s automotive industry, supporting both traditional auto manufacturers and easing the transition towards technology-enabled and lower emissions vehicles.


For more information about USIBC’s work in the automotive sector, please contact Jasjit Singh.

A statement from U.S.-India Business Council President Nisha Biswal following Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s presentation of the 2020-2021 Union Budget.

“USIBC welcomes the Government of India’s 2020-2021 Union Budget, which introduces a variety of reforms to promote investment and enhance the Ease of Doing Business. Coupled with major policy announcements unveiled by Finance Minister Sitharaman last fall, the government has taken notable steps to stimulate India’s economic growth in the years ahead.
As the first full-year budget since Prime Minister Modi’s reelection in 2019, the 2020-21 Budget provides important insights into the government’s priorities for the next four years. USIBC was particularly pleased to see the Budget address a number of areas where the Council has urged reform on behalf of its members. These include an effort to double farmers’ income and develop a technology-enhanced agriculture ecosystem; a renewed commitment to transportation infrastructure through the National Infrastructure Pipeline; investments in advanced and emerging technology; and expand connectivity, technology, and smart cities that will underpin India’s $5 trillion digital economy.
We welcome the government’s decision to abolish direct dividend taxes and streamline the process for Goods and Services Tax (GST) filing, which will ease compliance burdens and make India a more attractive investment destination. Our members also positively note the new Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme, and anticipate implementation of mechanisms that improve tax predictability and certainty.
While USIBC had hoped to see an increase in the foreign direct investment (FDI) allowance for the insurance sector in the budget proposal, we look forward to continued engagement with the government on reforms that are needed to bring fresh investment in a critical sector. Recognizing that India is operating under fiscal constraints, the Council continues to advocate for greater investment of resources to modernize India’s defense industry and shore up the auto manufacturing sector, a critical driver of India’s growth.
The Council also remains concerned about the many new tariffs, fees, and cesses introduced in the Budget. These new tariffs touch agricultural goods, medical devices, automobile parts, electronics and electric vehicles. Both USIBC and the U.S. Chamber have long maintained that tariffs raise prices for consumers and create friction with trade partners, ultimately inhibiting economic growth.
The U.S.-India Business Council has been a part India’s growth story for 45 years since our founding in 1975. We believe that the economic outlook is strong, and India will remain a global destination for business and investment in the decades to come. We look forward to serving as a partner in that growth.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) rang in the new year with several high-powered additions to the Global Board of Directors.

Bharat Forge Deputy Managing Director Amit Kalyani; Citi India CEO Ashu Khullar; HCL President and CEO C. Vijayakumar; Procter & Gamble President, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa Magesvaran Suranjan; and TransUnion President for International David Neenan join a prestigious list of CEOs and executives providing industry and strategic guidance to the Council. (See the full USIBC Global Board of Directors)

“I am enormously pleased to welcome our new Board members, said USIBC President Nisha Biswal. “Bringing on leaders of this caliber ensures that USIBC can deliver on an ambitious and wide-ranging advocacy agenda.” With 2020 set to be a dynamic year in the U.S.-India corridor, the newly added executives are ready to bring new perspectives on international trade, supply chain movement, data privacy, and other important issues that are facing our members. “I am honored to join the USIBC Board of Directors and very excited about the opportunities lying ahead to strengthen ties between India and the U.S.,” said P&G President Magesvaran Suranjan. “India is one of P&G’s top global markets and we are committed to be a force for good and a force for growth in the country.”


Amit Kalyani is Deputy Managing Director and a member of the Management Board of Bharat Forge, the world’s largest forging company. In this capacity, he is involved in Bharat Forge’s strategic planning and global business development initiatives and contributes significantly across functions such as manufacturing, marketing, exports and technology up-gradation. Since joining the Pune-based multinational in 1999, Kalyani has served as Executive Director and Chief Technology officer. He previously held Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director roles at Kalyani Investment.

Ashu Khullar is CEO of Citi India and Cluster Head for South Asia, leading all of Citi’s businesses in India and providing oversight of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Over a multi-decade career with Citi, Khullar has served as Head of Citi’s Capital Markets Origination (CMO) business for Asia Pacific, Co-Head of Citi’s Corporate Banking business in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and Head of Corporate Banking for Central Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa (CEEMEA). He was previously Co-Head of EMEA Loans, Capital Markets Origination, with oversight of the Project and Infrastructure Finance business.

C. Vijayakumar serves as President & CEO of HCL Technologies, spearheading HCL initiatives touching digitalization, Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud, Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence. Vijayakumar has worked with HCL for nearly 25 years, first joining the company as a member of the team that designed and implemented India’s first automated trading network at the National Stock Exchange. More recently, he was President of HCL Infrastructure Services, and has held leadership positions in the company’s technology, business and operational leadership businesses.

Magesvaran Suranjan is President of P&G India and P&G Asia Pacific. Over twenty-five years with P&G, Suranjan has held various positions focused on general management, change management, finance & accounting, and systems integration. Before assuming his current role in 2015, Suranjan served as Vice President and General Manager for Asia Home, Power, Oral & Professional and North America Febreze, as well as Vice President and CFO for Global Home Products. He has also held leadership roles in corporate forecasting and analysis, finance and accounting, and business development.

David Neenan is President of International at TransUnion, a position he has held since joining the company in 2012. He previously held a variety of positions at HSBC, including Global Chief Operations Officer and Global Head of Sales and marketing for HSBC’s insurance division. He also served as President and CEO of HSBC Finance, Canada.


The U.S.-India Business Council represents top global companies operating across the United States, India, and the Indo-Pacific.  Amid dynamic growth within the U.S.-India commercial partnership, we serve as the premier voice of industry and create connections between businesses and governments across both countries.  Through our flagship Washington, D.C. and New Delhi offices, as well as presences in Mumbai, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and New York, we work with members to identify and advance key policy priorities.  Recognizing that U.S.-India trade is increasingly driven by new business hubs, USIBC is also focused on strengthening connections between cities and states.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations. Its International Affairs division includes more than 80 regional and policy experts and 25 country- and region-specific business councils and initiatives. The U.S. Chamber also works closely with 117 American Chambers of Commerce abroad.


Carolyn Posner | cposner@usibc.com (U.S. Inquiries);

Priyanka Sethi | psethi@usibc.com (India Inquiries)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) announced four new appointments to the USIBC Global Board of Directors. Effective immediately, VMware Executive Vice President and General Manager, Telco and Edge Cloud Shekar Ayyar; Jetsynthesis CEO Rajan Navani; Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited (TAFE) Chairman Mallika Srinivasan; and Library Pictures International CEO David Taghioff will join the 35-member board.

“Shekhar Aayar, Rajan Navani, Mallika Srinivasan and David Taghioff each bring a tremendous depth of industry and leadership experience,” said USIBC President Nisha Biswal. “Going into USIBC’s 45th anniversary year in 2020, I look forward to their guidance as we craft USIBC’s most ambitious agenda for engagement and advocacy to date.”

As members of the board of directors, Aayar, Navani, Srinivasan and Taghioff will provide insights both for sector-specific work and across the Council’s broader agenda. They join a prestigious list of CEOs and executives on USIBC’s board. (See the full USIBC Global Board of Directors)

Ayyer joined VMWare in 2007, where he serves as Executive Vice President and General Manager of VMware’s Telco and Edge Cloud business unit. Before assuming this role in July 2019, he led the company’s strategy and corporate development efforts and helped incubate the telco Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) focus area. Aayer brings over 20 years of senior leadership experience in enterprise software, communications and semiconductors, and has held senior executive roles at BindView, Instantis and Lucent.

Navani is the CEO of Jetsynthesis and Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the diversified Jetline Group of Companies, focusing on packaging manufacturing, IT services, healthcare, entertainment and digital media. He concurrently serves as Chairman of the Confederation of Indian (CII) Industry National Council on Future Businesses, National President of the Indian Digital Gaming Society, Trustee of Aspen’s Ananta Centre in India and Chairman of the CII Council on India@75. Navani is also a Founding Trustee of the India@75 Foundation.

Srinivasan serves as Chairman of Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited (TAFE), where she has held various roles for 25 years with a focus on product and process development. A thought leader and strategist, she has been recognized for entrepreneurship, commitment to excellence and contributions to the Indian agriculture machinery business. Srinivasan also serves on the boards of AGCO Corporation-USA, TATA Steel Limited and TATA Global Beverages Limited.

Taghioff has served as CEO of Library Pictures International (Library), a global local-language content financier, since the organization’s launch in May 2019. He previously served as Co-Head of Global Client Strategy at leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Prior to joining CAA in 2011, Taghioff served as Chief Operating Officer of the entertainment division at Octagon Inc.


The U.S.-India Business Council represents top global companies operating across the United States, India, and the Indo-Pacific.  Amid dynamic growth within the U.S.-India commercial partnership, we serve as the premier voice of industry and create connections between businesses and governments across both countries.  Through our flagship Washington, D.C. and New Delhi offices, as well as presences in Mumbai, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and New York, we work with members to identify and advance key policy priorities.  Recognizing that U.S.-India trade is increasingly driven by new business hubs, USIBC is also focused on strengthening connections between cities and states.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations. Its International Affairs division includes more than 80 regional and policy experts and 25 country- and region-specific business councils and initiatives. The U.S. Chamber also works closely with 117 American Chambers of Commerce abroad.

Contact: Carolyn Posner | cposner@usibc.com

On December 4, The cabinet of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved a data protection bill for tabling in parliament. Following the circulation of the Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB) text, U.S.-India Business Council President Nisha Biswal issued the following statement:

“The U.S.-India Business Council welcomes the Government of India’s introduction of the Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB) in Parliament this week and commends the government for its consultative process.  Over the past several years, USIBC has worked closely with both government and industry leaders to support development of a transparent, light-touch, and risk-based approach to data protection in India.

It is clear that the government and Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recognize the importance of establishing a sound data protection framework, and we are encouraged to see a number of industry perspectives reflected in the revised PDPB.  We note the requirements for data localization have been relaxed, enabling access to the global processing and data analytics that sustain India’s nearly $200 billion digital economy. A balanced approach to penalties is also a significant, constructive step. We look forward to additional opportunities to share specific additional technical points that could further improve the bill.

Unfortunately, the bill also contains several new provisions outside the core issue of data privacy that raise serious concerns for the private sector, particularly the inclusion of requirements around non-personal data and voluntary social media know your customer (KYC) provisions. These two issues are distinct from personal data issues and are complex in their own right. Given the need for additional discussion, we urge the government to remain focused on essential data privacy issues and to take up these matters as part of existing policy efforts taking place in parallel to the PDPB. We also recommend the bill be revised to provide ample time to establish a new Data Protection Authority (DPA) and strengthen the DPA’s independence and effectiveness, as well as allow companies to transform business operations, develop new technologies, and innovate digital solutions. We remain committed to working closely with the government as the bill moves through the parliamentary process, and commend the clear process outlined for the Bill’s introduction and passage next year.  Meanwhile, we will continue to seek opportunities for industry and India’s leading trading partners to share their views as new policy takes shape.”

For media inquiries, please contact Carolyn Posner (cposner@usibc.com | +1 202-281-7345) or Priyanka Sethi (psethi@usibc.com).

As part of the International Privacy Forum, the U.S. India Business Council organized a data privacy roundtable on November 15  with U.S., Japanese and Indian government officials to discuss India’s draft Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB). The discussion, which focused on the effective creation of an Indian data protection authority, included U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioner Christine Wilson, officials from the Japanese Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC), Indian representatives from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCCC), and a range of industry leaders.

The session coincided with the Indian Parliament’s decision to list the PDPB for introduction and debate in the current winter session – extremely timely and pertinent deliberations. International regulators offered insights and experience around best practices and pitfalls in privacy regulation, including the recent Japanese experience in creating new data protection authorities (DPAs), as well as building trust both between consumers and the government, and among international privacy regulators.

Session Highlights

HYDERABAD: The Telangana state government is all set to welcome foreign universities once the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) Bill, 2019, is adopted in the Parliament during the forthcoming Winter session.

The State Planning Board Vice-Chairman stated that the Centre would enact a new Education Bill in the forthcoming session of the Parliament, lifting the ban on the entry of foreign universities into the country.

Vinod Kumar met with Nisha Desai Biswal, president of the US-India Business Council at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC, where he discussed an action plan to set up pharma and IT industries in the State. In the wake of the new Insurance Bill to be enacted in the winter session of the Parliament, he also discussed the State’s plans in the insurance sector with the members of the council.


Source: New Indian Express