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Commerce & Industry Minister to visit Chicago for trade policy forum dialogue and INDO-US SME Summit

Washington, DC
February 8, 2008

Commerce & Industry Minister of India, Mr. Kamal Nath will visit Chicago for a meeting of the India-US Trade Policy Forum, established in 2005. Ambassador Susan Schwab, US Trade Representative will co-chair the event. Discussions will focus on the five jointly identified key areas: Agriculture, Innovation & Creativity, which looks at the broad gamut of IPR-related issues; Investment; Services and Tariff & Non-tariff barriers. The meeting will review the progress made since the last TPF meeting in April 2007 in New Delhi.

In keeping with the decision taken by the two Ministers at the last meeting to expand economic and commercial cooperation between their SME sectors, the first ever Indo-US SME Summit: would be held in Chicago to coincide with the TPF meeting with the objective of enhancing cooperation between Indian and US SMEs, especially in the manufacturing sector through leveraging the opportunities offered by global supply chains. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) are organizing the Summit on February 20-21, 2008 with the support of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and United States-India Business Council. A 60-plus strong delegation of India companies representing diverse industrial sectors is expected for the Summit. 

Today, India’s manufacturing has emerged as a new engine for growth. US is an excellent partner for India to consolidate its position as a global manufacturing hub in the coming years. Chicago and mid-western states of US, which together form the manufacturing hub of the US, can play a special role in exploiting the synergies. There are numerous SMEs in these states, which are technology-intensive and are very well suited to forge mutually profitable business collaborations with the Indian SMEs. The goal of the SME summit is to catalyse and facilitate such cooperation. 

Ambassador Susan Schwab and Minister Kamal Nath would jointly inaugurate the Summit. A conference would be held on the first day to deliberate on key issues like SME partnership in engineering and manufacturing, role of SMEs in global supply chain, financing SME Competitiveness in a global environment etc.The second day will be devoted to matchmaking meetings, being facilitated by the Embassy of India as well as its Consulate in Chicago. 

The two Ministers would also be interacting with the Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) , which they decided to set up at the last TPF meeting. The Group, which includes eminent persons from both sides, will be meeting for the second time; the inaugural meeting took place in New York in September 2007.

Minister Nath will also be interacting with the local corporate community at a luncheon organized by the Executives’ Club on February 19. Later in the day, he will give keynote remarks at an event co-organized by USIBC and FICCI – “Investing in America: The Indian story”. 

Background information

Indian SMEs contribute 40 % of the country’s manufacturing sector output, 6.75 % of GDP and provide employment to about 20 million people. They account for 95 % of the total industrial units and produce over 7,500 different products, ranging from simple items to high-tech products using sophisticated state of the art technology, for both domestic and international markets. More than 50% of the Indian exports are contributed by SMEs of which about 15 % is through indirect exports.

India-US direct bilateral merchandise trade has exhibited exponential growth over the last five years, increasing from US$ 18 billion in 2002 to US$38 billion in 2007(Jan-Nov) with US exports growing by 75 % last year. 

Bilateral investments are also growing steadily. US happens to be the one of the largest investors in India, contributing about 11 % to the FDI actual inflows in India. Further, while US investment into India during 2006-07 grew to $ 900 million, Indian investments in the US during the period crossed $ 2 billion with 46 outbound deals from April 2006 to March 2007. These were equity investments made by Indian enterprises in joint ventures and wholly owned subsidiaries. The investments by Indian companies in the US during 2007 are estimated to be around $7 billion.