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USIBC Newsletter (October 18, 2019)

Message from the President

Dear colleagues,

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.

Sincerely,
Nisha Biswal

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.

For more information on this event or USIBC’s City and State Connectivity work, please contact Sandip Samaddar and Sid Mehra.

October 4 – Arkansas-India Business Roundtable with Governor Asa Hutchinson
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.

During the discussion, participants noted agriculture and food processing, supply chain logistics, aerospace and defense as sectors for potential collaboration. Governor Hutchinson also highlighted the investment and jobs growth created by major Indian companies like Welspun, Wipro, Infosys, and noted his desire to establish more connections with Indian corporations.

For more information on this event and USIBC’s City and State connectivity work, please contact Sandip Samaddar or Sid Mehra.

October 4 – Indiana-India Business Roundtable with Governor Eric Holcomb
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.

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.

For more information on the event or USIBC’s work in the financial services sector, please contact Hitesh Jain or Lauren Diekman.

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.

For more information on the US-India IP Summit or USIBC’s work on intellectual property protection, please contact Sandeep Maini or Jay Gullish.

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.

October 17 – Roundtable with Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman
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.

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

October 21, 2019
Lunch with State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman Rajnish Kumar
Invitation-only Event
New York, NY
Learn More
October 21, 2019
U.S.-India Commercial Space Dialogue
A conversation on the margins of the International Astronautical Congress
Washington, DC
Learn More
October 22, 2019 (Tentative)
Roundtable Discussion with Lisa Curtis, NSC Senior Director for South and Central Asia
Washington, DC
Learn More
November 14, 2019 (Tentative)
India’s Proposed Personal Data Protection Law in the Context of the Data Driven Economy
a CIPL and Trilegal Joint Workshop
Learn More
November 2019 (Tentative)
Delegation to the U.S.-India Civil Space Joint Working Group
Bangalore