USIBC Newsletter (October 18, 2019)
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.
USIBC and CII welcomed Governor Asa Hutchinson for the first Arkansas-India Business Roundtable in Mumbai. CII leader and former COO of Arkansas-based Godrej Tysons Arabinda Das and representatives from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission kicked off the event with a presentation on Arkansas’ business potential. India Advisory Council member Nishith Desai highlighted the role that USIBC and his firm Nisith Desai Associates can play in strengthening business ties between India and Arkansas. Participants from Infosys, Oyo Hotels, JNPT and HCC also noted their interest in connecting with companies in Arkansas and the broader region.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger addressed over forty participants at the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel early this month. Governor Holcomb lauded the benefits of investment in Indiana, which tops U.S. national rankings in return on investment, low tax rates and transparency, as well as boasting expertise and job growth in timber, life sciences and technology.
Discussion focused on the future of work, the need to upskill workers, and opportunities for collaboration between India and Indiana in non-traditional segments like the sports economy, media and entertainment and educational tourism. The lunch roundtable also featured a welcome presentation by Tata Sons President of Defence, Aerospace and Infrastructure and USIBC Board Member Banmali Agrawala, whose support made this event possible, as well as a presentation by support member Infosys on the company’s job creation and skilling initiatives in Indiana.For more information on this event or USIBC’s City and State Connectivity work, please contact Sandip Samaddar or Sid Mehra.
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.
For more information, please contact Sandip Samaddar.
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.
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.
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.
On October 17, USIBC and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) hosted Minister of Finance at the Baker McKenzie offices in Washington, DC for a discussion of India’s growth potential. The closed-door discussion with corporate leaders comes just after a series of sweeping economic reform measures announced by Minister Sitharaman over the past two months, many of which focus on improving ease of doing business and attracting stronger inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI).To allow for a candid discussion with Minister Sitharman, all remarks during the session were kept off-the-record. For more information about Minister Sitharaman’s public remarks in Washington, please contact Nileema Pargaonker or another member of the USIBC team.
- USIBC supports dialogue on intellectual property: “Second edition of the US-India IP Dialogue Concludes in the Capital” (ANI, October 17)
- “India Wants to Partner with Indiana on Sports” (Inside Indiana Business, October 14)
- Governor Asa Hutchinson speaks during his official trip to India: “Trade opportunities between US and India historic: US State Guv” (Economic Times, October 7)
Lunch with State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman Rajnish Kumar
New York, NY
U.S.-India Commercial Space Dialogue
A conversation on the margins of the International Astronautical Congress
Roundtable Discussion with Lisa Curtis, NSC Senior Director for South and Central Asia
India’s Proposed Personal Data Protection Law in the Context of the Data Driven Economy
a CIPL and Trilegal Joint Workshop
Delegation to the U.S.-India Civil Space Joint Working Group