USIBC Newsletter (July 26, 2019)
Message from the President
While many in Washington are preparing to leave town during the dog days of August, the action continues unabated on the U.S.-India commercial and diplomatic front as we gear up for a flurry of activity before Prime Minister Modi’s trip to the UN General Assembly meetings in September. With the Defense Policy Group meeting in Washington next week followed by the U.S.-India Forum in Delhi in mid-August, this promises to be a busy summer for U.S. and Indian officials, as well as for USIBC staff and members!
Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal is also expected to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington in late August to resume trade talks. The meeting follows a trip earlier this month by AUSTR Christopher Wilson and Deputy Assistant USTR Brendan Lynch to New Delhi for the first post-election visit by USTR.
I’m just back from a extended visit to India where we held post-budget release member engagements with Finance Ministry officials: Minister of State Anurag Thakur, Secretary Subash Garg, Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian as well as Minister Hardeep Puri, DPIIT Secretary Ramesh Abhishek, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, and key officials in the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, and the Prime Minister’s Office. USIBC members should keep an eye out for the upcoming policy update with key takeaways from my visit.
Of course, the one constant in life is change. No sooner had I landed in the U.S. than the Indian government announced a major bureaucratic reshuffle, with over twenty officials taking on new posts. Former Secretary of Economic Affairs Subhash Chandra Garg has been moved to the Ministry of Power. Atanu Chakraborty is the next Secretary of Economic Affairs, and Guruprasad Mohapatra will replace a retiring Ramesh Abhishek as Secretary of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). See the full list of new appointments.
Earlier this month, the Government of India also released the much anticipated Union Budget 2019-2020, which provided the government an opportunity to address the economic plateau, employment opportunities, and discuss the tax regime, among other issues. You can read the full set of budget documents here. Following the budget’s release, USIBC hosted webinars with both Dhruva Advisors and Grant Thornton to discuss the impact of the budget and tax proposals. If you missed the webinars but would like to remain engaged on these issues, I encourage you to reach out to Nileema Pargaonker for more information.
ADVOCACY & EVENTS
U.S. Embassy New Delhi Minister Counsellor (Economic, Energy, Environment and S&T) Robert Garverick provided a readout for USIBC members on Secretary Pompeo’s visit to New Delhi on June 26. The Secretary met with Prime Minister Modi and held discussions with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, with whom he held a joint press conference on the strategic convergence of U.S.-India relations.
For more information, please contact Sandip Samaddar.
USIBC hosted Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for South Asia Christopher Wilson on July 17 for a debrief on his recent visit to India and a discussion on the future of U.S.-India trade initiatives. Wilson noted that the visit focused on relationship-building rather than specific trade negotiations, as the Government of India seeks to put the relationship on a good footing post-election. He emphasized that the visit was encouraging, and laid the groundwork for a ministerial meeting between Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and USTR Robert Lighthizer in August.
For more information, please contact Sandip Samaddar.
USIBC hosted a roundtable to connect member companies with incoming Consul General to Mumbai David J. Ranz. To brief Ranz on industry challenges and opportunities, representatives from a variety of industry verticals (pharmaceuticals, agriculture, supply chain logistics, etc.) shared updates from their companies and key industry priorities. In addition to engaging in discussion with members, DAS Ranz highlighted his key priorities for his tenure in Mumbai, and provided updates on the planned USG Indo-Pacific Hub in India.
For more information, please contact Jasjit Singh.
USIBC hosted the 2019 International Privacy Forum at the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad. The event featured discussions on international privacy issues, best practices, and opportunities for continued U.S. – India cooperation on privacy regulation and data governance.
USIBC hosted U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew S. Borman and other experts on defense export licensing on July 18 in New Delhi for an industry interaction, “STA-1: Connecting India to the Global Supply Chain.” The event was jointly organized with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Government of India. MEA officials at the invent included Joint Secretary (Americas) Gourangalal Das and Director (Americas) P.S. Gangadhar.
The team from the U.S. Department of Commerce was in India for a visit designed to sensitize the Indian government and the industry to the benefits available to India as part of the Strategic Trade Authorization – Tier One (STA-1) status that India was accorded in August 2018. India is the third Asian country after Japan and South Korea to be granted STA-1 status, paving the way for exports of high-technology products to India from the U.S. DAS Borman emphasized that Indian importers are not only eligible for license exemptions under STA-1 for a wide range of U.S. high-tech products, but can also re-export these products to other STA-1 eligible countries.
The program received positive responses from industry, with a number of defense and tech companies attending the interaction.
USIBC hosted a workshop on building innovation and energy efficiency in Mumbai on July 23. One result of the U.S.-India energy partnership, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab has published a premier Building Innovation Guide (BIG) for the design, construction, and operations of smart, energy-efficient, high-performance buildings in the climate zones of India.The BIGathon was a unique opportunity for U.S. and Indian researchers, policy-makers, and businesses to build partnerships in the areas of building technologies and IoT, smart grids, electric mobility, and renewable energy to enable aggresive energy targets for sustainable development. The Government of India is focused on achieving a $5 trillion economy by 2025, and India is well on its way to becoming the world’ third largest consumer market by 2025. This growth can only be achieved by investing in next generation infrastructure. The event focused on how to democratize, decarbonize and digitize next-generation buildings and ecosystems across India.
On July 18, the U.S.-Bangladesh Working Group hosted Bangladesh Energy Adviser to the Prime Minister Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury and over 20 senior energy industry executives for a roundtable discussion, held in partnership with Cheniere and Excelerate Energy. Dr. Chowdhury spoke with participants on priority industries including exploration of oil and gas, renewable energy development, e-mobility, energy access, and energy storage technology, among others.
For more information on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s work on Bangladesh through the U.S.-Bangladesh Working group, please contact Sid Mehra.
- Interview with USIBC President Nisha Biswal: “‘India Needs Regulatory Coherence,’ U.S.-India Business Council Says” (Forbes, July 10)
- USIBC Senior Director, Defense & Aerospace Ben Schwartz on the U.S. administration’s response to Indian defense purchases: “After trade war, Trump wants to punish India for Russian defence purchases” (The Print, July 23)
- USIBC President Nisha Biswal on the need for dialogue between the United States and India: “Why India is Mad at Trump” (Foreign Policy, July 23)
- USIBC President Nisha Biswal on managing U.S.-India trade tensions: “U.S.-India Business Council head urges countries to think bigger on trade” (Inside U.S. Trade, July 25)
Roundtable: Enabling Policies for Digital Economy
New Delhi, India
Colorado-India Business Roundtable featuring Ambassador Harsh Shringla & Governor Jared Polis Denver, CO
Roundtable with Incoming Embassy of India Officials DCM Amit Kumar and Minister (Commerce) Manoj Mohapatra Washington, DC
Roundtable with Dr. Ajay Kumar, Secretary of Defense Production Washington, DC
USIBC Life Sciences Mission to India
New Delhi, India