Many of us are adapting to a new and emerging reality as we work to maintain productivity while addressing the health and safety needs of communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. USIBC will continue to provide the information, analysis, advocacy and engagement opportunities that strengthen connectivity in the U.S.-India corridor. We welcome your ideas and suggestions on what would be helpful as we all navigate a fast-changing environment.
Message from the President
Over the weekend, a phone call between Prime Minister Modi and President Trump confirmed dates for President Trump’s first official visit to India–February 24 and 25. Both leaders will have economic issues on the mind as the U.S. and India seek to conclude a much anticipated deal on a small package of trade issues.
The domestic economy also took center stage in both countries this month with the release of India’s 2020-2021 Union Budget and an official Budget proposal from the White House. In India, the revenue-focused Budget was greeted with muted enthusiasm by industry. While including some important policy tweaks, the proposals as a whole lacked a sweeping vision of economic reforms needed to jump-start India’s economy. Markets quickly steadied after a major stock market sell-off following the budget announcement, reflecting a largely practical budget centered on social welfare and development issues. Given the Modi administration’s tendency towards major announcements outside the annual Budget framework, it’s also possible that we’ll see more regulatory changes coming down the pipeline. In case you missed it, USIBC shared our thoughts on the Budget release through an extensive series of tweets and an official press statement, as well as several budget-focused engagements with members Dua Associates, Ernst & Young and Nishith Desai Associates.
In the United States, President Trump announced a record-breaking $4.8 trillion budget proposal for FY2021. While the budget does not include much focus on India and will look significantly different from the eventual version put up for a vote in Congress, it defines the administration’s priorities. Most notably, the proposal would increase spending on U.S. immigration and border protection and defense systems development, while reducing funding for U.S. foreign aid, environmental programs and major social safety net programs like Medicaid. On the trade front, the proposal includes significant cuts to economic development and trade adjustment assistance programs run through the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Department of Labor.
The President’s budget also arrives on the heels of a more-positive-than-expected jobs report, a good indication that the U.S. economy will remain strong as the United States heads into election season. Despite the continued rise in India’s inflation rate, which prompted the Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee to hold interest rates steady earlier this month, economists broadly expect to see India’s economic growth rates rise by the end of this year. The wildcard?: the spread of coronavirus. While not prevalent in India, China’s centrality to global supply chains means that the India – and the rest of the world – will feel the effects of shuttered manufacturing plants and an estimated $280 billion hit to the global economy in the first three months of 2020.
With all of the activity in the U.S.-India corridor, it will be a busy month as negotiators try to wrap up a U.S.-India trade agreement and officials prepare for the President’s trip to New Delhi and Ahmedabad, featuring a Howdy Modi-style mega-event. While in India, President Trump is also expected to announce several deals, including new big-ticket defense purchases. As we prepare for President Trump’s visit, USIBC is also just weeks away from launching our 2020 Board of Directors delegation to India in early March. (Look out for some exciting Board additions in advance of the trip!)
ADVOCACY & EVENTS
January 31, 2020 – Automotive Working Group Launch Event
USIBC launched a new Automotive Working Group, which convened members in the motorcycle, passenger vehicle, and commercial vehicle sectors to identify areas for engagement with the U.S. and Indian governments. Alliance for Automotive Innovation Chief Policy Officer David Schwietert kicked off the session with a overview of the U.S. automotive sector,
which has faced a softening market as consumers opt for leases over ownership and increasingly rely on ride sharing services. Ola Electric Founder Anand Shah provided an update on India’s growing electric vehicle (EV) market and regulatory landscape, noting the reforms needed to make India’s auto industry more competitive globally. Discussion 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. As a next step, the group will hold a similar launch event in India to refine the group’s advocacy agenda. Read our highlights from the launch event.
February 1, 2020 – Budget Webinar with Dhruva Advisors
USIBC and Dhruva Advisors hosted a conference call following the release of India’s Union Budget 2020-21 on February 1. CEO Dinesh Kanabar and Dhruva senior leaders provided a tax-focused overview and assessment of Budget proposals, covering changes to both direct and indirect taxes that will impact foreign companies and investors in India. The presentation focused on reforms eliminating the dividend distribution tax, updates to the international tax regime, particularly the Significant Economic Presence Test, a new 1% tax-deduced-at-source (TDS) on e-Commerce transactions, proposals to enhance tax compliance and dispute resolution schemes, and changes to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and export customs. View the Dhruva Advisors Presentation: Union Budget 2020-21.
February 5, 2020 – U.S. Chamber International IP Index Launch
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) released its 8th annual International IP Index, which tracks progress on intellectual property rights (IPR) protections across 53 economies. After recording the largest gains of any country in the 2018 and 2019 editions, India continued its progress with a nearly 7% score increase in this year’s edition.
Both USIBC and GIPC congratulated India for significant work to create a stronger IPR regime, issuing a press release and a series of tweets, while recognizing that more work needs to be done to make India more attractive for investments in technologically cutting-edge, intellectual property (IP)-intensive industries. USIBC and the GIPC work closely to support India’s evolving IPR protection regime and foster sharing of global best practices between India and the United States. We are also planning an India launch of the IP Index in March, so stay tuned for details.
For information on USIBC’s work on IPR, please contact Jay Gullish.
February 6, 2020 – USIBC Privacy Working Group Call
In the Privacy Working Group’s first coordination call of 2020, the conversation provided a detailed update on U.S. privacy laws, which include 5 separate bills pending in Congress and 16 states that have passed or are considering state-level privacy laws. Jordan Crenshaw, CTEC, Chamber of Commerce provided a briefing focused on the ultimate goal of interoperable privacy regimes between the U.S. and India. On the Indian side, Trilegal Partner Nikhil Narendran, emphasized that the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) is seeking industry comments by February 25. Most likely, the JPC will revise the current draft, along with further deliberations in the Monsoon Session of Parliament typically in October. Discussion centered on USIBC’s submission and the finalization of research by CUTS International. Looking ahead, USIBC will host the next International Privacy Forum on March 4-6 in New Delhi, with U.S. government and international participation.
February 6, 2020 –Immigration Working Group Call
In the first call of the year, the conversation focused on member interest in Senate Bill 386, and the new H1B Pre-registration process beginning in March 2020. Other topics included 3rd party definitions and proposals around H4 visas. USIBC will host a webinar on H-1Bs, registration and other issues and strategies on Feb 27. (Register)
To join the Immigration Working Group group, or for more information on USIBC’s immigration policy work, please contact Jay Gullish.
February 6, 2020 – Discussion of India’s Intermediary Guidelines with Trilegal
With the pending IT Act Intermediary Liability Guidelines likely to come out in several weeks, USIBC held a closed-door discussion with leading Trilegal digital lawyer Nikhil Narendran. The conversation provided background on intermediary liability in India, including a legal overview of laws and court rules. Discussion also focused on likely changes in the draft compared with the original proposal, given Indian media reports suggesting the new rules will focus on social media platforms. The government is currently obtaining a review from the Ministry of Law, and then will likely notify the guidelines, rather than opening an additional consultation. Once the final rules are notified, USIBC will host a follow-up conversation with Trilegal to assess the finalized guidelines (Read more: MeitY 2018 Notification; USIBC Submission)
For information on USIBC’s work on immigration policy, please contact Jay Gullish.
February 5-8, 2020 – DefExpo Delegation & USIBC Session on U.S. Industry & Make in India
USIBC led an Executive Mission to DefExpo 2020 for meetings with key officials from the Ministry of Defense and the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Across the board, government officials assured delegation members that the government had heard and incorporated USIBC member recommendations on facilitating U.S.-India defense and aerospace collaboration. Sessions 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; and the incorporation of industry players in defense co-development and co-production under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) framework.
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, with Minister Singh focusing on shared common values and principles in promoting global security, stability, and prosperity. 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. The session also featured remarks from Andhra Pradesh Minister of Industry and Commerce Shri Mekapati Goutham Reddy; Boeing Vice President Dennis D. Swanson, Lockheed Martin Director for Asia Dave Sutton; BAE Systems Regional Director David Park; and U.S. Embassy OCD Capt. Dan Fillion. Read our full overview of the USIBC Delegation to DefExpo 2020 >>
February 11, 2020 – USIBC “MasterClass” on Privacy with Former National Cyber Security Coordinator Dr. Gulshan Rai
USIBC and Dua Associates co-hosted a member interaction on the Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB) with Dr. Gulshan Rai, the Government of India’s former National Cyber Security Coordinator.
Approximately 15 members participated, including representatives from the digital economy, telecommunications and financial services sectors. Dr. Rai offered observations on how the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) would conduct its review and reporting process. He encouraged USIBC and its members to take advantage of the opportunity to present to the Committee as a follow-up to written submissions. In a lively discussion, members noted concerns around the privacy bill, focusing on its vague language and seeking clarity on its terms. Dr. Rai suggested industry should push for a public debate of general principles to shape the regime’s implementation, limit the discretion of the Data Protection Authority (DPA) to subject its decisionmaking to due process and Parliamentary debate, highlight problems with the GPDR’s implementation and push for changes to the PDPB to address them. Based on the success of the event, USIBC is considering another session on the PDPB in the near future to connect members with JPC members and thought leaders.
For more information on the event or USIBC’s work around the PDPB on data privacy, please reach out to Aditya Vasishtha or Jay Gullish.
February 11, 2020 – India’s Post-Budget Economy with Economic Affairs Secretary Atanu Chakraborty
USIBC hosted a members-only roundtable with Atanu Chakrobarty, Secretary of Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Finance, to discuss India’s 2020 budget and facilitate a candid exchange of views on its impact on members.
Approximately 25 members participated, including senior representatives of companies from the financial services, digital economy, life sciences, energy and logistics sectors. EY sponsored the event and kicked off the session with a presentation by two EY Partners on the Indian economy and the budget, with a focus on personal and corporate tax issues. (View the EY Presentation)
Secretary Chakraborty framed the 2020 budget as setting the stage for the government’s next five years. He emphasized its focus on digital technology, investment promotion, governance, economic liberalization, and infrastructure, as well as caring for the disadvantaged and the environment. He praised the budget for its transparency and use of credible financial projections, noting the government’s desire to keep the fiscal deficit in check to avoid alienating international investors. The Secretary also drew attention to the budget’s efforts to increase farmers’ income by building connections to global value chains and praised its uses of catalytic financing modalities to promote advances in health care and education. He also acknowledged more work had to be done to promote debt financing from private sector sources, especially via alternative investment vehicles.
During the Q&A portion of the event, members raised topics including boosting infrastructure finance by changing rules applying to REITs and InvITs; promoting due process for logistics companies subject to license revocation proceedings; the negative impact of the medical equipment cess on product prices; the misapplication of the cess by customs officials to equipment inputs; efforts to increase India’s self-sufficiency in the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients; delaying the implementation of the 1% withholding requirement on ecommerce transactions; and India’s commitment to further liberalization and more open trade.
For more information on the event or USIBC’s engagement around the 2020-21 Union Budget, please reach out to Nileema Pargaonker or Sana Bagwan.
February 13, 2020 – Digital Proposals in the 2020-21 Budget with Nishith Desai Associates
USIBC’s Digital Economy Committee hosted a call on digital proposals in India’s 2020-21 Budget with a tax expert from Nishith Desai Associates. The presentation focused on the updated definition of “significant economic presence” which has been broadened, potentially raising tax exposure for some companies. While the section was poorly written and included unclear definitions, there are opportunities to engage on specific provisions as the rules are refined and implemented under existing tax treaties. Participants also noted that India’s position runs counter to aspects of emerging OECD digital taxation policy. The discussion also touched on the new e-commerce tax and a requirement that companies above 50 crore turnover allow digital payments, an effort to support digital payments and control black money.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is planning its first executive mission to Bangladesh on March 31 to April 1. The trip will convene U.S. company executives for a series of high-level government and industry meetings, including a potential engagement with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The mission is limited to members of the U.S. Chamber’s Bangladesh Working Group, a platform for U.S. companies to identify areas for policy advocacy, engage with critical stakeholders and receive the updates on the U.S.-Bangladesh commercial relationship.
If your organization is interested in having a company executive join the U.S. Chamber’s business delegation or want to learn more about this mission, please reach out to Sid Mehra.
Message from the President
I hope all of our readers in India enjoyed a happy Republic Day! The year has gotten off to an eventful start, with the countdown on for India’s budget announcement and DefExpo 2020, movement towards conclusion of the long-anticipated U.S.-India trade agreement, and preparations underway for the first U.S. Presidential visit to India in five years. Amid all of this activity, incoming Ambassador of India to the United States Taranjit Sandhu will have to hit the ground running as he joins the Embassy in February.
On Saturday, India’s stock markets will remain open an extra day as industry eagerly awaits Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement of the 2020-2021 Union Budget. This is the first full-year budget of Prime Minister Modi’s second term, and will be an opportunity for the PM to lay out a growth-focused economic agenda. The budget announcement comes at a critical time for India, with growth projected at just 4.8% for the current fiscal year and a likely shortfall in tax revenue.
While economists widely predict a stronger market in 2020 – supported by corporate tax cuts announced by FM Sitharaman in September – industry will be looking for new policy initiatives designed to support struggling sectors and kick-start consumer spending. Chief among these is a widely anticipated personal tax cut. India may also raise import duties on $56 billion worth of inputs to support domestic manufacturers, following a recommendation by trade and finance ministry officials. Based on conversations with our members, USIBC submitted over thirty pages of budget recommendations and will be watching closely to see which – if any – are included in this year’s budget. You can check out some of our top recommendations on our Twitter feed or in the text below. Members are also invited to join our Budget readout call on February 1.
On the U.S. side, officials are gearing up for President Trump’s first visit to New Delhi in late February. Following extensive conversations around energy during Prime Minister Modi’s Houston trip in September and recent comments by Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan, we’re expecting to see conversations on energy, including oil and gas, as one focal point of the trip. With the intersection of energy and sustainability a key topic at last week’s World Economic Forum (WEF) and spiking global oil prices in the wake of the coronavirus’ spread, India’s energy future will no doubt be top-of-mind going into the trip.
The President’s projected visit has also accelerated conversations around a limited U.S.-India trade deal. After more than a year of negotiations, both U.S. and Indian officials are signaling that an agreement is nearing conclusion, and U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer may head to India to finalize a package as early as next week. In exchange for a restoration of India’s benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program – valued at roughly $6.3 billion in 2018 – the deal is likely to include greater market access for U.S. agricultural goods, medical devices and motorcycles. It remains unlikely that ICT tariffs, a particular point of interest for U.S. industry, will be addressed in the deal.
Bilateral trade will get the spotlight at next week’s DefExpo 2020 as well, with U.S.-India defense ties at an all-time high as the defense trade relationship hit $18 billion last year. Co-led by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, the delegation will meet with high-level Indian defense officials and host a session focused on the U.S. defense industry’s contributions to ‘Make in India.’ I look forward to seeing many of our members at DefExpo and during my travel to India over the next few weeks.
January 29: USIBC announces the Executive Delegation to DefExpo 2020 (Press Release)
The U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) will lead its 17th Defense Executive Mission to DefExpo 2020 (February 5-8), showcasing the continuing vibrance and importance of the U.S.-India defense partnership. The mission will be co-led by Dennis Swanson, Vice President, International Sales, Global Sales and Marketing, and Defense, Space & Security, Boeing Global Services and David Sutton, Director for the Indo-Pacific, Lockheed Martin International. It follows a successful U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, which featured the signing of defense agreements including the Industrial Security Annex (ISA).
Jan 16: USIBC announces five additions to the 2020 Global Board of Directors (Press Release)
– Amit Kalyani, Deputy Managing Director, Bharat Forge
– Ashu Kullar, CEO, Citi India
– C. Vijayakumar, President and CEO, HCL
– Magesvaran Suranjan, President, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Procter & Gamble
– David Neenan, President for International, TransUnion
ADVOCACY & EVENTS
Note: The points below are just a small sampling of the recommendations USIBC submitted to the Ministry of Finance in January. Altogether, our submission reached over thirty pages of text, and touched every industry sector we cover at USIBC: Aerospace & Defense; Banking, Private Equity & Digital Payments; Digital Economy; Energy & Environment; Food, Agriculture & Retail; Infrastructure; Legal & Professional Services; Life Sciences; Manufacturing; Media & Entertainment; Supply Chain Logistics; and Tax, Insurance & Real Estate.
The U.S.-India Business Council is pleased to support the Asian Legal Business India In-House Legal Summit 2020, which will convene business and legal professionals for conversations on recent regulatory developments, pressing legal and compliance issues, and best practice solutions in India and across the region.
January 16 – FTC Commissioner Wilson Debrief on Privacy, Competition, and Consumer Protection
As part of the USIBC Privacy Working Group (PWG), we hosted our first conference call of the year with FTC Commissioner Christine S. Wilson for a debrief on her recent trip to India. Commissioner Wilson spoke about her meetings with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and her thoughts on the Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB). She discussed getting India involved in international privacy-focused groupings and stressed the need to focus on innovation and risk-based approaches. Looking ahead, the FTC hopes to amplify its engagement with India through fellowships and official visits, among other points of contact.
Message from the President
Following the bright lights of the Diwali season, Governor of Colorado Jared Polis brought renewed energy to the U.S.-India corridor last week as he toured through Mumbai and Bangalore during the first international trip of his term. USIBC hosted the governor in both cities for discussions focused on business growth in the renewable energy, infrastructure and e-mobility sectors. With Colorado hoping to make the switch to 100% renewable energy by 2040, we see huge opportunities for knowledge sharing with the growing Indian clean energy sector. Speaking of Diwali, while the festivities may have ended in India we’re still celebrating here in Washington with a Diwali on Capitol Hill celebration this Thursday. It’ll be a busy evening, as we’re also supporting the DC premiere of The Warrior Queen of Jhansi, a film based on the true story of “Joan of Arc of the East” Rani Lakshmibai. (Watch the trailer)
On the economic front, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the creation of a $3.5 billion fund to complete stalled housing projects and boost the housing sector, the latest in a sweeping series of reforms designed to jump-start the Indian economy. Following a downgrade in the Moody’s Investor Service outlook for India, the Finance Ministry highlighted the impact of these reforms in shoring up the economy against global headwinds, noting that India’s economic fundamentals remain strong.
Trade and investment are also top of mind with Minister of Commerce Piyush Goyal in Washington and New York this week for meetings with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and industry groups. While the U.S. and India continue to work on a limited agreement, there are indications of interest in a more comprehensive conversation on trade. India has also expressed renewed interest in a bilateral deal with the U.S. following PM Modi’s move last week to withdraw from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Both governments have kept the content of discussions tightly under wraps, but USIBC will bring you insights as we engage Minister Goyal at an industry roundtable in New York this week.
In India, all eyes are on Maharashtra, where the makeup of the government remains in flux with none of the three major parties able to attract enough delegates to form a coalition government. As an interim measure, the state is now under President’s rule, which allows the BJP-led central government to exercise direct control. As regional parties look to reconsolidate, the BJP will also have its eye on upcoming by-elections in Karnataka, where it will need to win seats to maintain its majority.
As a quick note, with Thanksgiving around the corner in the United States, this will be our only newsletter for November. We hope our readers in the United States have a wonderful holiday with friends and family, and we’ll catch you in December to wrap up the year. You can always see our latest updates on Twitter and LinkedIn.
ADVOCACY & EVENTS
For more information, contact Hitesh Jain.
For more information, please contact Hitesh Jain.
The USIBC delegation brought together representatives from Abbott Healthcare, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Amazon, 3M, GE Healthcare, IBM, Proctor & Gamble and Flipkart, among others, for a series of meetings with officials from the Himachal Pradesh Department of Health and Family Welfare; Department of Industries; and Department of Information and Technology. With bad weather forcing the cancellation of a meeting between the delegation and Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, he has committed to scheduling a meeting with members in Delhi during a future trip. The event also featured several MOU signings between Amazon India and the Government of Himachal Pradesh focused on enabling sales by handloom producers and providing training and on-boarding workshops for MSME exporters, community organisations and agriculture cooperatives.
November 8 – Interaction with DPIIT Secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra
USIBC’s discussion with Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) Secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra drew members across the manufacturing, defense & aerospace, financial services, digital economy, and healthcare industries. Secretary Mohapatra began the discussion by outlining India’s big-picture economic priorities, which include making India a $5 trillion economy, breaking into the top 50 in the World Bank’s global Ease of Doing Business rankings, and boosting foreign investment. He also noted Government of India (GOI)-wide plans to advance the attractiveness of India’s manufacturing sector and integrate India into the global supply chain network.
Participants raised concerns around liquidity in India’s financial system, taxation and refunds, data privacy and localization, digital payments, remote access, packaging and labelling, consumer and labor laws, GST and duty structure, and harmonization and standardization of rules. Secretary Mohapatra requested that USIBC organize sector-specific discussions, which will allow DPIIT will take forward individual cases and concerns and bring in stakeholders from other government ministries and departments.
For more information, please contact Sandip Samaddar.
November 13 – U.S. Chamber Hosts Bangladesh Advisor to the PM Salman Rahman
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Bangladesh Working Group hosted a “Future of Investment in Bangladesh” Business Roundtable featuring Private Industry and Investment Advisor to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Salman Fazlur Rahman, in partnership with the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. The event also included Bangladesh Ambassador to the U.S. Md. Ziauddin and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Executive Chairman Md. Sirazul Islam.
Made possible with support from GE and Cheniere, the discussion focused on Bangladesh’s efforts to improve its World Bank Ease of Doing Business, including work to develop a reliable One Stop Service (OSS) platform, which would provide streamlined electronic services to domestic and foreign investors. Rahman showcased IT, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, energy, ready-made garments and manufacturing as critical sectors for the government of Bangladesh, and noted women’s economic empowerment as a key focus area. Participants also engaged the Bangladeshi officials on impediments to investment, as well as the opportunities they see in the growing Bangladesh market.
If you are interested in the U.S. Chamber’s work on South Asia, or would like to more information about joining the U.S.-Bangladesh Working Group, please contact Sid Mehra.
Message from the President
Happy Diwali and a prosperous year ahead! We hope that you had the opportunity to pause, reflect and enjoy some well-deserved time with friends and family.
The Diwali season brought a gift from the World Bank, which moved India 14 spots higher in its annual Ease of Doing Business report. The Bank commended Prime Minister Modi’s reform efforts, which have earned India a spot on the top 10 most-improved list for the third year running and catapulted the country to 63rd in the world from a dismal 142nd in 2014. This year’s ranking reflects improvements in the processes for registering businesses, trading across borders, resolving insolvency and acquiring permits for new construction. With India’s recently unveiled corporate tax reforms not yet factored in, GOI officials have expressed optimism that India will crack the top 50 next year – a longtime goal of PM Modi.
While it may have been a holiday in India, it was an action-packed few weeks for a number of our Indian members. In Delhi last week, Prime Minister Modi launched Bridgital Nation, a book by Tata Group Chairman N Chandrasekaran and Chief Economist Roopa Purushotamam on the coming disruption of articifial intelligence. Here in the United States, I was on hand to celebrate as tech giant Wipro doubled down on their investment in the United States with the opening of a new engineering and innovation center in Richmond, VA. We also hosted State Bank of India Chairman Rajnish Kumar, who sounded an optimistic note on the overall fundamentals of the Indian economy and India’s drive to become a $5 trillion economy.
India’s reforms took center stage again at Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative, better known as Davos in the Desert, where PM Modi delivered a keynote address Tuesday on “what’s next for India.” India is set to become just the fourth country to form a strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia, and Prime Minister Modi and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman are expected to sign agreements in key sectors including oil and gas, renewable energy and civil aviation. Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani also spoke at the event, alongside nearly 300 political and business leaders
Looking ahead, Colorado Governor Jared Polis will travel to India late this week, where he’s slated to speak at the 3rd annual Global Renewable Energy Investors’ Meet & Expo (RE-INVEST). Polis will be the 5th U.S. governor to travel to India this year with support from USIBC. For more on our work to promote U.S.-India connections at the state level, check out our recent update. You can also follow us on Twitter (@USIBC) for the latest coverage of official visits and policy updates.
ADVOCACY & EVENTS
For more information, please contact Jay Gullish.
October 21 – Lunch with SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar
USIBC hosted State Bank of India Chairman Rajnish Kumar for a small group discussion on the state of India’s financial markets and how India can transform the banking sector to support sustained investment and economic growth over the next decade. Kumar provided an overview of recent reforms in the Indian banking sector, followed by a presentation from SBI Chief Economic Advisor Soumya Ghosh on India’s drive to become a $5 trillion economy. Ghosh highlighted new growth drivers including India’s push for e-governance, digitization through Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM), expansion of the gig economy, growing end-to-end digital value chains, better financial data for lending to MSMEs, the rise of new fintech companies, and new last-mile delivery channels. He also noted that banks’ asset quality has improved in the past two years, and emphasized the Government of India’s committment to combating economic headwinds.
For more information, please contact Sid Mehra.
Check out Foreign Policy’s new weekly South Asia Brief, which provides news and analysis from the world’s fastest-growing region, with an eye to business and technology. Written by Foreign Policy managing editor Ravi Agrawal and deputy editor Kathryn Salam.
The Innovation Index is flexibly designed to allow updates based on real-time data. While the second edition will be released in mid-2020, the data set and metrics underlying the analysis will be publicly available on the Niti Aayog website by next week. View the full Innovation Index 2019.
For more information, please contact Carolyn Posner.
Message from the President
As Finance Ministers gathered in Washington this week for the annual Bank/Fund Fall meetings, the global economic slowdown was the talk of the town. USIBC and CII convened a conversation with Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman focused on the Indian economy and plans for stimulating greater growth. The roundtable, hosted at the offices of USIBC member Baker McKenzie, was a dynamic and interactive discussion that focused on advancing the economic relationship between the two countries, as well as some of the challenges facing US companies in India. Also in the news was the Nobel prize in economics, awardred to a trio of Ivy League economists for their work on poverty alleviation. There was much discussion in the Indian media of Kolkata-born economist Abhijit Banerjee, who along with colleagues Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer was awarded Nobel Prize in Economics. Born in Mumbai, Dr. Banerjee came to the United States to pursue a PhD at Harvard, a testament to the strong educational nexus between India and the United States.
In a press conference following the award, Dr. Banerjee shared concerns about the state of the Indian economy – a sentiment shared by both government of India officials and the business community. (He has also published a book with former RBI Chief Raghuram Rajan, IMF Chief Economic Geetha Gopinath and 10 other economists laying out the challenges facing India’s economy and some recommended solutions.)
Also in the headlines was the Modi-Xi summit in Tamil Nadu, the so-called “Chennai Connnect.” While the meeeting served more as a rapport-building exercise than a vehicle for granular trade talks, the two leaders agreed to Ministerial-level talks to reduce India’s $50 billion+ trade deficit with China.
India’s economic future also featured in discussions at the third CERAWeek India Energy Forum in New Delhi this week. Speaking at the Forum, Minister for Commerce and Railways Piyush Goyal explained that he was not “unduly perterbed” by India’s economic downturn, calling it “an opportunity…to reassess capacities, productivity, costs of production.” FM Sitharaman also reassured investors that India would honor its energy agreements, a concern after the state of Andhra Pradesh asked government agencies to lower tariffs on renewable energy projects. But the biggest deal in energy this week comes from Exxon Mobile, which signed a deal with Indian state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) to develop offshore oil and gas resources.
Want to hear the latest on India’s economic policy moves? Follow us (@USIBC) on Twitter for coverage of our roundtable with SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar next week.
ADVOCACY & EVENTS
October 3 – Roundtable with Senator Chris Van Hollen
USIBC hosted Senator Chris Van Hollen for a business-focused discussion with members, supported by Boeing. Salil Gupte, President of Boeing India, began by presenting on the trajectory of defence and civil aviation in India, as well as avenues for partnership between the United States and India. Senior economist Anjan Roy also provided an overview of current dynamics in the Indian economy.
Senator Van Hollen discussed how U.S. companies can support India’s growth, and engaged participants on issues including strategic trade controls and co-production, food security and medical devices. Discussion also focused on state-to-state connectivity, and how expanding ties at this level can create opportunities for cooperation between Maryland and India in bio-technology, finetch, and developing a startup-friendly business ecosystem.
October 7 – U.S.-India Renewable Energy and Clean Tech Partnership New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez and Mumbai Consul General David Ranz headlined a discussion with USIBC members on trends in the energy sector. Senator Menendez outlined his vision for the U.S.-India energy partnership, noting the U.S. capacity to advise on best practices and provide advanced technology and financial tools.Participants focused on opportunities in renewable energy, including wind and solar, energy storage, electric vehicles and smart grids, and discussed strengthening market access in both countries.
October 9 – Industrial Parks and Industrial Corridors: Business Enabling EcosystemsAs companies look to diversify their supply chains, India is working to develop high quality services and standards in manufacturing. USIBC was pleased to support a timely discussion of India’s industrial corridors and opportunities for investment, led by member Sannam S4 with support from Mahindra World Cities.
40+ participants joined the webinar to learn more about India’s investment climate and the outlook for growth in key sectors like energy, infrastructure, environmental preservation and digital economy. Mahindra noted that companies are seeking investment opportunities in industrial cities and parks that are sustainable, eco-friendly, and offer expertise in hassle-free operations and shorter time to market through features like customizable plug-and-play infrastructure – all features of Mahindra’s growing suite of industrial parks. Location is also critical, as companies seek high growth areas with access to transportation and a strong supply chain ecosystem. Speakers also addressed India’s recent spate policy reforms and their contribution to sustaining global investor interest in the Indian economy.
For more information, please contact Hitesh Jain.
October 11 – Roundtable with Senator Ted CruzUSIBC and AmCham India hosted Texas Senator Ted Cruz in New Delhi last week during the India leg of his tour through Asia, which included stops in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong. During the roundtable, Cruz lauded the contributions of the strong India diaspora community in Texas, and emphasized Howdy Modi as a critical catalyst for future U.S.-India ties. On business issues, Senator Cruz was primarily in listening mode, as he sought feedback and views from senior business leaders from U.S. companies in India prior to a series of meeting with high-level Government of India officials.
For more information, please contact Sandip Samaddar.
October 14 – Connected Cars Panels at the Indian Mobile CongressUSIBC led a delegation of companies to the 2019 Indian Mobile Congress (IMC), India’s largest annual digital technology event, held from October 14-16. In opening remarks, IT and Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad noted the government’s awareness of issues surrounding spectrum pricing, and said that the Department of Telecommunications will review prices in advance of an auction to be held later this year. Prasad also emphasized that while India respects encryption, law enforcement agencies should be able to identify the source of messages used to spread misinformation. Day one highlights also included remarks from Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, who emphasized the remarkable social transformations generated by ubiquitous access to digital connectivity.
As part of the first day’s events, USIBC also organized and facilitated three panels on the future of cars and how transportation networks are transforming in the 21st century. VMWare provided a keynote to start our first panel on cars as connected platforms, followed by a discussion of the policy implications of connected vehicles. We finished the day with a session on autonomous vehicles, which touched on both enabling technology – artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things – as well as the implications for road safety, public transportation networks and regulatory reform.
Congratulations to our many members with fantastic booths at #IMC2019, including Cisco, Ericsson, Facebook, Intel, Nokia, Qualcomm, RedHat, and Vodafone, as well as to KPMG for their release of a Knowledge Report at the event.
For more information on the panels or USIBC’s Connect Car Delegation, please contact Jay Gullish.
October 16 – USIBC & GIPC Host the 2nd Annual US-India IP SummitThe U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), in partnership with USIBC, hosted the 2nd Annual US-India IP Dialogue in New Delhi, focused on deepening bilateral strategic cooperation on IP policy. The “IP Dialogue: Opportunities for U.S.-India Collaboration,” an initiative on IP-led innovation, brought together experts from India’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Indian Patent Office, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, along with thought leaders from IBM India, Gujarat National Law University, USPTO, UC Berkeley, Indian movie and music industries and RELX among others. discussions under this dialogue focussed on joint opportunities and challenges related to whole spectrum of IP, including patent filing, regulatory landscape, copyright and infringement, technology transfer, and enforcement.
To safeguard confidential business information, GIPC and the Indian government also published their first-ever joint project, ‘A Guide to protecting Trade Secrets,’ for Indian businesses. Trade secrets are the type of intellectual property most relied upon by businesses all over the world to retain a competitive advantage. This toolkit aims to provide a definitive guide for Indian businesses, especially MSMEs and start-ups, on best practices for protection of trade secrets.
October 17 – A Global Macro Perspective: Demographics, Economics, and FinanceUSIBC hosted Dr. Amlan Roy, State Street Asset Management Senior MD and Head of Global Macro Policy Research for a working breakfast focused on the opportunities and threats of rapidly evolving global demographics and consumer preferences. The event also featured USIBC President Nisha Biswal and leaders from Lynx Investment Advisory.
Dr. Roy urged the G10 and emerging markets to support workforce participation by traditionally underutilized populations, delaying retirement age and ensuring equal pay and better family support systems for women in the workforce. He also emphasized the importance of sound immigration policies to support economic growth. Through these measures, Dr. Roy noted that societies can fight rising inequality, address the rising number of people who have permanently left the workforce, and support innovation ecosystems.
Lynx Investment Advisory Chairman Peter Talous and CEO & Chief Investment Officer Vipin Sahijwani both highlighted the disruptive effects of historically low interest rates on global markets, prompting a discussion of the longer-term impact on the health and wealth of societies. Dr. Roy contended that current fiscal, market, and asset allocation models are designed for a different age and that investors and analysts must create new models and strategies for navigating demographic, consumer, and even large-scale geo-economic shifts.
For more information on the event, please contact Ryan Miller.