Goods and services trade between the U.S. and India has exploded over the past decade, growing from just $66 billion in 2008 to over $140 billion in 2018. For many American companies, a rapidly growing Indian middle class and recent business-friendly reforms make India a top growth market. As Indian companies go global, they are increasingly looking to expand into the United States. At USIBC, we know that while good economic policy from DC and Delhi is critical, growth at this scale is driven by the choices of companies in cities and states across both countries – from Georgia to Gujarat, and Los Angeles to Lucknow.
For companies seeking investment and partnership opportunities, establishing connections at the local level has never been more important. This is particularly true in India, where we work with high-growth cities and states through on-the-ground events, as well as hosting Chief Ministers as they travel to Washington, DC and cities across the U.S. to engage with businesses on opportunities for investment. In partnership with trade associations like the Federation for Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), we also host dozens of trade and investment-focused events in India each year.
On-the-ground market guidance and connections are critical in the United States as well. As part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, USIBC is connected to over 1,600 local chambers of commerce across the United States, helping us to link members with business opportunities across the country. We also work closely with the National Governors Association (NGA) and State International Development Organizations (SIDO) to help connect and leverage opportunities for our members across U.S. states.
2019 was a banner year for engagement at the state level, with 5 U.S. governors – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb – making official trips to India last fall. That’s not to mention Governor Matt Bevin, who led a delegation of Kentucky companies to the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in January. USIBC played a key role in many of these visits, facilitating the Vibrant Gujarat trip and hosting Governor Polis, Governor Hutchinson and Governor Holcomb for business-focused roundtables in New Delhi and Mumbai. At the Chamber, the Council also hosted a number of Chief Ministers and other high-level state officials as part of trips designed to strengthen trade ties and highlight opportunities for investment across India.
In 2019, members of the USIBC team crisscrossed both countries, hosting member-focused events in 20+ cities in 2019. While the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020 has altered our planning and substantially limited our ability to host in-person gatherings, the Council continues to engage officials at the state level via webinars and teleconferences with members to address both company and industry specific challenges and develop a roadmap for continued partnership in the post-COVID period.