USIBC President Nisha Biswal talks to the Hindu Business Line on the sidelines of USIBC’s 2018 India Ideas Summit about the state of the U.S.-India relations and the Council’s engagement on trade issues.

Last week’s horrific attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashimir which took the lives of nearly 40 young soldiers reminds us all that the U.S.-India relationship is at its heart a strategic partnership rooted in shared values and a shared determination to advance opportunity and to combat the forces of violence and terror.  On behalf of USIBC, we extended our deepest condolences to the families of those killed in the attack and we stand in solidarity with the people of India.

The week was supposed to be one where the trade and commercial relationship was to take center stage with the Commercial Dialogue and US-India CEO Forum happening in New Delhi. The CEO conclave, led by USIBC Board member Jim Taiclet of American Tower Corporation, resulted in the formation of a series of working groups to address areas of opportunity in the relationship.  We were encouraged that despite the weather related cancellations which prevented Secretary Ross from leading the Commercial Dialogue in person, that his remote participation allowed for a constructive dialogue that yielded strong commitments to collaboration on standards, improving the business climate in India, and travel and tourism. The full press release can be found here.

But despite the positive engagements of the Commercial Dialogue, U.S.-India trade discussions are entering a particularly challenging period with elections on the horizon. Recent policy changes have introduced new challenges and uncertainty for U.S. industry operating in India, including in ecommerce, data localization and other aspects of digital trade. In the United States, the Trump Administration has sharpened its critiques of trade deficits and unfair trade practices, indicating that withdrawing India’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program benefits is a policy option on the table. While recognizing the need for tangible progress in bilateral trade negotiations, USIBC has advocated with administration officials that such an action would be detrimental to the overall trade relationship. Some of our recent media interactions have stressed upon these priorities.

In February, USIBC also continue its focus on States with a delegation to the Bengal Global Business Summit. In Kolkata, we highlighted the impact of U.S. industry and discussed opportunities for investment with the Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee, State Minister of Finance Amit Mitra and other West Bengal officials. In addition to Industry participation, the delegation featured political leadership from North Carolina, including Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Morrisville Mayor TJ Cawley, as well as university, chamber of commerce and industry representatives from North Carolina. USIBC also led a robust capital markets delegation to Mumbai and Delhi led by HSBC India CEO Surendra Rosha.

Key Delegation Trip Outcomes:

Advocacy and Events:

Updates on Data Policies, and Intellectual Property

In the run-up to elections, the Government of India has issued several consultations and new policies covering data issues that include ecommerce, intermidiary liability, privacy, among others. USIBC has responded to the public consultations, and engaged stakeholders to educate decision-makers and advocate for open, transparent, and consistent digital economy that drives innovation and job creation.

On the IP front, USIBC submitted comments to the Indian government on proposed updates to India’s patent regime, sports broadcasting regulations, and Cinematography Act. The changes to the Cinematography Act close the camcording loophole, which has been approved by India’s cabinet. In each of these instances, USIBC coordinated with US Chamber’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC). Separately, GIPC launched its 2019 International IP Index, where India climbed 8 places, from 44 in 2018 to 36 in 2019. This is an unprecedented improvement. Full copy of the report can be found here.  For more details, please contact Jay Gullish.

Reception for India’s Ambassador to the United States Harsh Shringla in New Delhi (February 20, 2019)

USIBC in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) will host a welcome reception for Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India’s Ambassador to the United States of America. For more information, please write to Sandip Samaddar

USIBC to Lead Largest US Industry Delegation to Aero India 2019 (February 19-21, 2019)

USIBC will take a delegation to India’s 12th international show on aerospace, defense, civil aviation, airport infrastructure and defense engineering. The council has organized missions to this event for over a decade.This year’s event will feature more than 360 exhibitors and 62 aircraft on display. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Service Vice President Vivek Lall will lead the delegation, with incoming USIBC Defense and Aerospace Committee Head Rich Weir of Northrop Grumman in attendance. The delegation will also include senior executives from America’s premier aerospace & defense companies such as Raytheon, Textron, AECOM, General Atomics, Boeing, Harris, Telephonics, Northrop Grumman, and BAE Systems. For more information, please write to Ben Schwartz

West Coast Reception- India, Trade & Technology in 2019 on February 20, 2019

With important Indian elections upcoming and questions of of how India can create a longterm enabling environment for technology and investment, please join the newly appointed Indian Consul General of San Francisco Ambassador Sanjay Panda and USIBC Global Board & Western Digital EVP Siva Sivaram for a fireside chat on the future of U.S.-India trade and innovation partnerships, as we discuss what Bay Area innovators should expect to see in 2019. For more information, please write to Thea Uppal

Message from the President:

Dear Colleagues,

“United we stand, divided we fall. The opportunity between the United States and India is immense, but we need to get together and work in unity to take it to new heights.” – Matt Bevin, Governor of Kentucky

Inspiring remarks by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin at the 2019 Vibrant Gujarat Summit demonstrate the potential to grow the U.S.-India relationship through deeper connections at the city and state level.  Last week, a USIBC delegation led by Governor Bevin traveled to Gujarat and New Delhi for a suite of engagements focused on creating new avenues for investment.  These high-impact meetings included:



All Eyes on India’s General Elections
New Delhi is focused on general elections, with recent polls suggesting that neither the NDA nor the UPA will win a clear majority.  Election forecasts project the BJP will emerge as the party with the largest number of seats. However, a formidable alliance between regional parties Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party may cause an upset for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. USIBC expects the upcoming interim Union budget will include allocations designed by the Modi government to ease rural distress and provide concessions for small businesses, the middle class and farmers. 

Call for Comments Ahead of the U.S.-India CEO Forum

USIBC will submit comments for the upcoming U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue, scheduled to take place in New Delhi on February 14. All inputs will be reviewed for inclusion in USIBC’s submission to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Please provide comments to USIBC Vice President Amy Hariani ( no later than Thursday, January 31. 

USIBC Delegation to the Bengal Global Business Summit

On February 6-7, USIBC will take a delegation to Kolkata and the Bengal Global Business Summit.  The delegation will be helmed by leaders from the USIBC India Advisory Council and feature a strong contingent from North Carolina. Delegates include North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Mayor TJ Cawley, as well as university, chamber of commerce and industry representatives from the state. This is an excellent opportunity to engage with some of the heavyweights in West Bengal politics and industry who are likely to emerge as key players in national politics. For more information, please write to Sandip Sammadar

USIBC Capital Markets Delegation
USIBC will lead a delegation of senior capital market executives to Mumbai and New Delhi on February 4-5 to discuss capital markets in the region and explore how they can further deepen their investment in India. HSBC India Chief Executive Officer Surendra Rosha will lead the delegation, which includes executives from leading financial sector firms based in the U.S., Singapore and India. The delegation will meet with officials from the Ministry of Finance, RBI, DIPP and SEBI, among others. For more information, please write to Rohan Sirkar.

AeroIndia & Defense Procurement
USIBC will take a delegation to India’s 12th international show on aerospace, defense, civil aviation, airport infrastructure and defense engineering. The council has organized missions to this event for over a decade.  This year’s event will feature more than 360 exhibitors and 62 aircraft on display. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Service Vice President Vivek Lall will lead the delegation, with incoming USIBC Defense and Aerospace Committee Head Rich Weir of Northrop Grumman in attendance. As part of our mission, members will receive VIP access to events, meet senior U.S. and Indian government officials, participate in B2B networking events, attend seminars focused on opportunities and challenges associated with doing business in India’s aerospace and defense sector. For more information, please write to Ben Schwartz

In recent years, the commercial relationship between the US and India has matured significantly. Over the past decade, two-way trade has grown significantly to approximately $120 billion today. With the U.S. Presidential Administration’s focus on the Indo-Pacific, the US-India relationship has the opportunity of a century to reset the region’s dynamics and there is every reason to be positive about India’s growth story. At the back of its very strong and far-reaching reform agenda, India is now witnessing enhancements in global benchmarks – whether it is in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, Moody’s rating, the Global Innovation Index, or the Global Competitiveness Index.

This report is the outcome of the meeting the U.S.-India Business Council Board of Directors held with the Prime Minister in September 2018. During that meeting, we discussed how industry can work with the government on big ideas and outcomes to show collective impact to our communities.

The Report focuses on seven key areas where the work of industry is naturally complimentary to the Governments objectives: Providing Quality Healthcare; Doubling Farmer Income and Supporting Agricultural Output; People to People Ties Through Investing in Education, Tourism and Skills of the Future; Manufacturing & Infrastructure for the 22nd Century; Affordable Energy; Defense and the Aerospace Industrial Ecosystem; and Promoting India’s Digital Leadership.

Over the last four years, India has witnessed significant improvements in doing business- removing red tape and regulatory bottlenecks through steps such as abolishing the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) have been welcome moves by the Government of India. India was the only economy in South Asia to join the list of the 10 top improvers in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing business ranking. Then there were other key structural reforms- the Government has repealed 1,420 obsolete laws in the last 3 years, and focused on overhauling India’s infrastructure sector. At a time when foreign direct investment is lower globally, India recorded the highest inflow of FDI in 2016 at $60.1 billion.

But despite achieving some momentum with these reforms, India still remains shy of a bold trade agenda that can catapult in to the projected $ 5 trillion economy by 2025. Although two-way trade and investment between the United States and India has significantly increased in the past decade, there is vast potential to cultivate this relationship not only in Washington and New Delhi but also in states and cities across both nations. That is why I am pleased that USIBC and KPMG have collaborated to develop a roadmap on further reforms for the business community.

Prime Minister Modi has laid out an ambitious strategy for continuing India’s economic transformation- the “New India 2022”- a series of milestones for India to achieve by the country’s 75th anniversary. The vision is predicated on inclusive growth and development and highlights the role of the private sector in bringing the benchmarks to fruition. American companies and USIBC stand as committed partners to this effort. Now more than ever, government and industry need to work together to achieve the development goals and outcomes that neither can achieve alone. USIBC is committed to partnership with the Indian Government and to deliver positive outcomes for society.

Download the report here

U.S.-India energy cooperation is positioned to be one of the fastest growing areas of the strategic and commercial relationship over the next 20 years.

The importance of energy cooperation and the desire to increase collaboration has been a priority sustained through several U.S. and Indian administrations. The strategic and commercial role of energy between our two countries was reaffirmed and elevated during President Trump and Prime Minster Modi’s 2017 meeting in Washington, when the two leaders announced the U.S.-India Strategic Energy Partnership. In order for both countries to achieve deeper and more meaningful cooperation, the U.S-India Strategic Energy Partnership held the stated goal of facilitating increased industry and stakeholder engagement for which the U.S.-India Business Council is a proud partner.

India’s economic and strategic influence in the Indo-Pacific region continues to grow. During the launch of the Indo-Pacific Business Forum at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. July 2018, energy and energy infrastructure were highlighted as priorities by Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. Unveiled during the event, the U.S. government showed its own commitment to the region through the roll out of the Asia EDGE (Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy) program which will invest approximately $50 million to strengthen energy security and promote energy access across the region. As Asia EDGE and other Indo-Pacific initiatives are further developed by the U.S. government, the private sector players of both countries will be essential to closing the investment gap and providing input to policy makers in order to continue growth for priority initiatives.

Here are some key trends in the sector to watch out for in the coming months:

India’s Growing Energy Demand:

India has emerged as the fastest growing major economy in the world and is expected to account for about one quarter of the growth in global energy demand through 2040 – offering enormous opportunities for U.S. businesses to play a critical role in developing the energy sources and infrastructure India will need to achieve its goals.

While India and the United States share an all-of-the-above energy strategy and a focus on energy security, for India this is largely focused on 24×7 access to reliable energy. To meet these targets, India has focused on building out cleaner fuel sources including natural gas, renewal energy and civil nuclear. While some of the renewable buildout is ambitious, the vision for India is supported by abundant domestic solar and wind resources, a strong national government commitment to deployment of cleaner energy and technologies, an expanding building sector, and growing workforce. The widespread public concern with sustaining economic growth while improving quality of life metrics like air quality and a stable energy grid support the further development of these alternative fuel sources.

India’s rapidly growing renewables market is also primed for U.S. exports, with the U.S. Commerce Department ranking India as the third most attractive market for U.S. renewable energy exports. Despite the challenges posed by local content requirements and competition from companies with foreign government backing, hundreds of millions of dollars will be invested in the Indian renewable energy sector in the coming years. U.S. companies are well placed to lead in this sector and play a key role in developing best practices and standards.

Cooperating to Achieve Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is another area of opportunity for increased bilateral trade and cooperation. With roughly 80 percent of India’s commercial buildings yet to be built – robust implementation of energy efficiency policies that are in-synch with U.S. and global standards can help curb energy use and improve reliability, while still creating markets for innovative building technology services. Industrial energy efficiency, particularly in manufacturing, is an area ripe for more cooperation. Space cooling and efficient appliances will benefit from increased commercial ties, research and development. USIBC supports mechanisms to promote out-of-the-box thinking for new development and deployment of cutting edge technologies in the air conditioner industry – a market that will continue to grow in India with the burgeoning middle class and corporate campus development. Cooperation in energy efficiency has already supported the development and implementation of India’s energy efficient building codes.

Fossil Fuels Dominate India’s Power

Fossil fuels will remain a significant source of energy for India and the region in the coming years. While the costs associated with the long shipping distance to India limit the competitiveness of U.S. coal exports relative to suppliers in other countries, there is significant potential for increased U.S. coal exports, as well as selling big-ticket mining equipment and continuing consulting on mine safety and environmental issues. Increased cooperation in this area would not only create the potential for U.S. technology and service providers to contribute to efforts which increase efficiency and reliability of existing coal power generation and implement clean coal technology, but also to have a real impact on India’s emissions and air quality concerns.

India’s Import of U.S. Oil and Gas

The recent increase in oil and gas sales between the United States and India is another trend likely to continue over the next several years. India’s growing import volume of U.S. crude comes as India seeks to diversify sources, with strong potential for cooperation on Strategic

Petroleum Reserves between the two countries.

Gas will be particularly interesting area to watch. India’s stated goal of increasing the share of gas to 15% in the near-term and the focus on infrastructure and policy reforms in the gas sector provide ample opportunities for growth which USIBC support through its Executive Committee for Energy and Environment. Gas will also play an essential role in achieving India’s renewable energy targets by providing increased flexibility for grid integration. The United States is well positioned to become a key partner in this area, whether it’s through new exports to India, technology exchange or collaboration through the exchange of regulatory best practices.

Innovation is a particularly important component of both countries’ energy strategies, with technical collaboration in areas like smart grids, energy storage, energy efficiency, fossil fuel technologies, and electric vehicles poised to expand over the coming decades. The bilateral relationship provides opportunities for growth through both private enterprise and joint R&D programs like the Partnership to Advance Clean Energy’s new energy storage and smart grid track which could be expanded to include clean coal and civil nuclear cooperation.

Electric Vehicles Can Transform India

India’s ambitious agenda for electric vehicles (EV) is another area ripe for increased commercial ties and cooperation. As one of India’s largest and most ambitious programs, EV promotion enjoys government-wide support for India’s electric vehicle and battery manufacturing industries, charging infrastructure, and energy sector development. In September 2018, Prime Minister Modi outlined his vision for India’s mobility development, focused on the “Seven Cs” of mobility – common, connected, convenient, congestion-free, charged, clean and cutting-edge. Successful development of a competitive electric vehicle market in India will require engaging other countries and adopting global best practices for the Indian context.

These technological transformations would also have the benefit of reducing demand for energy imports and increasing India’s energy security through resource diversification. Developing a cleaner and smarter grid alongside a growing number of electric vehicles will be a challenge for India, requiring significant transformation of existing industries like automobile and battery manufacturing, as well as changes to electricity generation and transmission regulations. In all these areas, India and the United States can partner on regulatory and technology development while promoting continued business collaboration and advancing new investments.


Lauren Diekman
January 17, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

Happy New Year! I want to thank each of you for your partnership and commitment to USIBC over the past year, and share our rigorous agenda for the coming months. In the midst of a highly charged election season in India and a partial government shutdown in the United States, USIBC is continuing our work to support members’ priorities and operations.

We are  kicking off 2019 with a reception at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for incoming Ambassador of India to the United States Harsh Shringla, his first industry engagement in Washington. I had the privilege of working with Ambassador Shringla during my time as Assistant Secretary, and look forward to partnering with him to help take the U.S.-India relationship to new heights under his leadership.




Focus on State Engagements

With state engagement as a major focus for the year ahead, USIBC is taking a delegation to Vibrant Gujarat from January 18-20. Led by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, the delegation includes a number of Kentucky businesses and officials from Arizona and Indiana. USIBC has also been tapped to host the Vibrant Gujarat U.S. Country Seminar, featuring key U.S. industry leaders and GOI officials, where we will unveil a joint USIBC-KPMG report on the future of the U.S.-India Partnership. The report is in response to a request from Prime Minister Modi during his meeting with the USIBC Executive Delegation in September.

Next month, USIBC will take a delegation to Kolkata and the Bengal Global Business Summit from February 6-7. The delegation will be helmed by leaders from the USIBC India Advisory Council, and feature a strong contingent from North Carolina. Delegates include North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Mayor TJ Cawley, as well as university, chamber of commerce and industry representatives from the state. This is an excellent opportunity to engage with some of the heavyweights in West Bengal politics and industry who are likely to emerge as key players in national politics. I encourage interested members to join me in Kolkata and other USIBC state and city engagement opportunities in the coming year.



Hot Topics in Trade & Commerce

Managing Ongoing Trade Friction: USIBC continues to engage on a broad range of trade irritants, including price control policies and ICT tariffs, data localization requirements, and market access barriers for U.S. products entering the Indian market. We support India’s eligibility for GSP benefits, but have delivered a consistent message to the GOI that reforms are crucial to maintain a healthy trade relationship. We are watching closely as both sides stake out their positions in advance of the U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue and the U.S.-India CEO Forum, slated for late February. (Note: Schedule of the talks is contingent on resolution of the U.S. government’s partial shutdown.) The forums will provide further opportunities to engage with top policymakers on trade issues. 

New RBI Leadership & Upcoming Budget:  USIBC will meet with new Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das and Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Ajay Tyagi in Mumbai on January 22.  Coming just ahead of the Union Budget release on February 1, our discussion will focus on members’ priority issues. We expect the newly formed RBI digital payments panel – led by Nandan Nilekani – to be an critical point of engagement for members with digital payment equities, given its role in evaluating the national strategy for increasing digital payments in India.

AeroIndia & Defense Procurement: We are organizing a delegation to AeroIndia in Bangalore next month, focusing on Indian Defense Procurement Policy reforms.  Focus areas for delegates include implementation of the “Strategic Partnership” concept, CAATSA and technology transfer challenges associated with ongoing Russia defense trade, the Industrial Security Annex to GSOMIA and implementation of COMCASA.  

Good News in Medical Device Pricing: In a welcome move for the life sciences industry, the GOI lifted price caps on innovative and orphan drugs, giving Indian patients access to drugs that are currently only available outside the country. While medical device pricing remains a broader concern and an important point for advocacy for our members, there are some noteworthy developments, including the formation of the National Medical Devices Promotion Council under DIPP. The Council will act as a promotion and developmental body for the Indian medical device industry and make recommendations to government based on industry feedback and global best practices to strengthen the medical technology sector.

Advocacy on E-Commerce: USIBC continues to engage GOI officials on the issues created by new limits on FDI in B2B e-commerce, as well as the harmful implications of Press Note 2 (PN2) 2018, which places additional restrictions on B2C and inventory-based models. These new regulatory requirements follow the recent $16 billion purchase of Flipkart by Walmart, as well as significant new investments by a variety of other U.S. companies in India’s e-commerce sector. USIBC has formally submitted a set of recommendations to the GOI, urging the government to ensure a level playing field for e-commerce companies and permit 51 percent FDI, so U.S. and Indian companies can partner in providing world class solutions to merchants and customers and ensure long-term and stable industry growth.

As always, please reach out to me with any questions or feedback. We look forward to connecting with you in the new year to discuss how USIBC can best serve your company and your priorities.

Nisha Biswal

Governments across the world are endeavoring to create policies that ensure robust consumer privacy protections and promote the growth of technology. Interestingly, both India and the United States are currently at a similar crossroads as a recently-passed California privacy law is stimulating interest in a federal U.S. privacy legislation. Yet, India and the United States are uniquely positioned to propel their leadership in advanced technology with already highly integrated technology, investment, and human capital. As both evaluate how to create a coherent, streamlined set of privacy rules that benefit legitimate uses of data and do not forestall innovation, any new Indian or American privacy law must strive for global interoperability and the free flow of data, while stimulating socio-economic growth and ties between the United States and India. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is uniquely positioned to play a constructive role, and the business community welcomes an ongoing conversation focused on solutions, economic growth, and consumer protection.

Developing a privacy regime requires taking a judicious and thoughtful approach that draws on global best principles and practices that balance privacy, innovation and global interoperability, while designing a regime that is aligned to work within existing legal structures in an effective and efficient manner. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has developed a set of privacy principles to help achieve a privacy framework that is balanced, flexible, globally interoperable, and protects the free movement of data while protecting consumers:

1. A comprehensive framework of regulation that ensures certainty and consistency
2. Risk-focused and contextual privacy protections
3. Transparency in collection, uses and sharing of consumer data
4. Industry neutrality
5. Flexibility to develop adaptable, consumer-friend privacy programs
6. Harm-focused enforcement
7. Enforcement that promotes efficient and collaborative compliance
8. International leadership that promotes the free flow of data and interoperability between global frameworks
9. Encouragement for privacy innovation
10. Risk-based approaches to data security and breach notification

In some areas, India’s draft data protection bill takes on excessive regulation that will needlessly impede the free flow of digital commerce without providing meaningful privacy protections to consumers. This approach would burden all participants in India’s digital economy, and it would have disproportionate economic impacts on small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs. USIBC emphasizes the following changes to the draft legislation to align it international norms that will promote data stewardship in the digital economy, and stimulate economic growth, job creation, innovation, and entrepreneurship:

• Remove the data localization requirement and moderate onward transfer restrictions.
• Expand grounds for data processing.
• Clarify that the law would not apply to foreign national data processing.
• Clarify the definitions of personal data and anonymized data.
• Eliminate residency requirement for data protection officer (DPO).
• Reform restrictions on processing data of under-18s.
• Reform excessive penalties.
• Provide sufficient time for implementation.

Creating a privacy framework that is balanced, flexible, globally interoperable, and ensures the free movement of data while protecting consumers is central to India’s digital transformation, the promotion of India’s global competitiveness, and the Digital India vision. These changes will create solutions that not only advance India’s IT sector, but deepen U.S.-India commercial ties.

The Indo-Pacific has emerged as a critical engine for growth, with Asian economies projected to create 50% of global GDP in the coming decades. To realize that potential, the countries of the Indo-Pacific will need to attract nearly $26 trillion in capital to fund their energy and infrastructure needs. The United States will be a critical player in both investing the capital, and building the technology and infrastructure that the region requires.  The Indo-Pacific also represents one of the most important and fastest-growing markets for U.S. goods and services.

The INDO-PACIFIC BUSINESS FORUM will bring together key U.S. Cabinet Secretaries and senior leaders from government and business to discuss how government tools and policies can facilitate private sector partnerships to unleash the full potential of the Indo-Pacific region.

The Forum will also include the announcement of several initiatives in sectors such as energy, infrastructure, and the digital economy.

For more information or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Jasjit Singh at

If interested in attending please contact Kelsey Cadden at or 202.463.5924.

Credentialed members of the media are invited to attend. To register, email or call 202-463-5682.