Ambassador’s visit to Colorado: July 29-30, 2019 : Remarks by Ambassador at 2019 State International Development Organization (SIDO) Conference on US-India Trade and Investment: Opportunities and Best Practices

Ambassador’s visit to Colorado: July 29-30, 2019 : Remarks by Ambassador at 2019 State International Development Organization (SIDO) Conference on US-India Trade and Investment: Opportunities and Best Practices

          I am delighted to be here. This is my first engagement with the State International Development Organization (SIDO), which serves all 50 state trade agencies and support governors’ international trade agenda. I wish to thank Ms. Signe Pringle, President of SIDO and Executive Director of Maryland State Department of Commerce, President of USIBC Ms. Nisha Biswal, and the Confederation of Indian Industry for hosting this special session on India. 

2.       States both in the U.S. and India have a very important role to play in promoting business partnership and tie-ups. India-U.S. economic engagement at the state level is an intrinsic part of our bilateral trade relationship. Today, Indian companies operate in almost all 50 U.S. states representing diverse sectors, such as IT and telecommunications, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and life sciences, education, financial services and manufacturing. The contributions made by Indian companies are not limited to the U.S. economy or creation of jobs in America but also extend to service projects for American communities in areas like education and training.

3.       It is heartening to note that several States in the U.S. have taken significant steps to improve their ties with India. I have learnt that 14 American States and Counties have set up their offices in India, and there are proposals for the establishment of three more offices from the Great Lake states, partnership of eight states located in the Great Lake region, as well as the states of Mississippi, and Fulton County in Georgia. I call upon all the states represented here to open channels of cooperation in trade and investment by setting up offices in India or sending delegations to scout the enormous potential for your state's economy in India.

4.       Both our Embassy in Washington DC as well as our Consulates in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, New York, and San Francisco are prepared to liaise and work with you to make your visit to India a productive and successful one and to facilitate your investment projects or trade missions in India. We can support you by providing you business related information and opportunities, sharing best practices and linking you to business catalysts in India like the Confederation of Indian Industry or Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry – which have their offices in Washington, DC – as well as advocacy groups such as the US India Business Council and the US India Strategic Partnership Forum.

5.       I place such a heavy emphasis on collaboration at state levels because I have seen its value in developing India-US commercial ties in my interactions with Governors and state officials during my visits to Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Kentucky, Texas, California, and Washington, as well as in my meeting with Mayor of Los Angeles.

6.       The ongoing State Spotlight Webinar series under the framework of the India-US Commercial Dialogue is a prime example of successful state-level collaboration. So far, four U.S. states - Michigan, Washington, Texas, and Kentucky and three Indian states, namely, Odisha, West Bengal and Maharashtra have featured since the launch of this series. At these webinars, the respective states give a presentation on the contours of doing business and their attractiveness in terms of incentives to prospective investors. The state of Colorado is likely to feature in one of the next state spotlight webinar series later this year. The awareness raised by these webinars on the ease of doing business programs in each state has greatly helped promote State-to-State business ties. I urge all the international trade representatives from each state present here to consider taking part in this webinar series.

7.       The State Webinar series also highlighted the importance of cooperation in the SME sector. While India-US bilateral trade has grown immensely to $142 billion, it is expected to reach $238 billion by 2025. This next stage of growth will be driven by the SME sector in both countries. Specifically, the growth of SMEs in the digital marketplace present an ideal opportunity for increased India-US cooperation. This opportunity will also be on display at international exhibitions like GlobalSoft 2020 - a one-stop B2B exhibition for the global IT industry to explore opportunities in the Indian SME digital marketplace.

8.     Events like Globatsoft and other similar commercial state events like Vibrant Gujarat or Magnetic Maharashtra Convergence Conclave highlight the fact that we are meeting at a significant moment where India is more commercially motivated than ever. This was evidenced when people in India gave Prime Minister Modi a strong mandate for his second term. Prime Minister has always been committed to realizing India’s economic potential through strong reforms. His initiatives such as Start up India, Skill India, Make in India have encouraged US investors to expand their presence in India. This is partly due to steps that have been taken to relax FDI norms in industries such as defence, railways, insurance, civil aviation, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, retail, food trade, construction and broadcasting, among others. Prime Minister Modi is seeking to build upon this progress, and this is already reflected in this year’s Budget proposal. The new budget proposal seeks to liberalize India’s FDI regime further, by allowing 100% FDI for Insurance intermediaries and increasing Statutory limit for FPI (foreign portfolio investment) in a company from 24% to a higher sectoral limit. It also eases local sourcing norms in single brand retail FDI.

9.       One of India’s flagship programmes – theStart-up India – is a reflection of ease of doing business environment that is currently present in India. It helps entrepreneurs self-certify for compliance under 6 labour and 3 environment laws, and several states are in adherence. Academia and the industry have been broached together to set up 7 Research Parks, 18 Technology Business Incubators, and 13 start-up centres across the country to guide and mentor the entrepreneurs. This has helped India develop the third largest startup eco system in the world.

10.       India’s success in the startup system has also spilled over to the United States. There are more than 200,000 Indian students studying across several states and contributing to the US economy in various ways. More than 85% are in STEM areas.

11.    India-based global IT services companies contributed $57.2 billion to U.S. GDP in 2017 and employ more than 175,000 workers in the United States accounting for 8.4% of employment in the computer systems design and related services industry. Indian IT companies in the US are deeply embedded inthe roots of American society and their contributions have exceeded far beyond the economy. For instance, TCS launching an education initiative in 2017 called “My Future in School”, Infosys partnering with Trinity College on Applied Learning Initiative in September 2018, WIPRO’s partnership with First Book to distribute over 200,000 books by 2019-end, Mindtree’s $2 million grant to Stanford University in July 2018 are some of the examples of Indian IT companies’ contributions beyond their business operations.

12.       I am sure you have all received our "India Surging Ahead 2019" booklet. I encourage you to take a close look at it as it highlights the strides made by India across various sectors. The fact that India has jumped 65 places in 4 years to reach 77thposition on the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business ranking and 52nd rank in the Global Innovation Index are just some of the global indices reflecting India’s emergence as a hub for innovation and manufacturing. This is in line with Prime Minister Modi's ‘Make in India’ initiative. India is currently home to the world's 4th largest auto industry and 3rdlargest domestic civil aviation market.

13.       Two-way investments between India and the US reached about $60 billion. The US with $45 billion cumulative investment is the 6th source of foreign investment in India. The Government of India is taking steps to ensure that US investments into India is taken to new levels by ensuring profitability as well as protection of Intellectual Property. Through India's National IPR policy since its launch in 2016, the government has been working actively to promote IPR awareness and augment technical manpower to simplify the patent procedures and reduce pendency in patents and trademarks. It has completed 50 enforcement workshops for police officials across 26 states and union territories. An IPR enforcement toolkit has been prepared to serve as a ready reckoner for policy officials.

14.     Before I conclude, I would like to thank the SIDO, USIBC, and CII for hosting this event. Each state present here has opportunities that it can provide for successful promotion of both India and the US economy. I would like to assure you that whatever opportunities and interests you present to us, our Embassy and Consulates will work hard to bring India to you. Only by working together on both sides, we can ensure that we realize the full potential of both the Indian and the U.S. economies. We are very happy that you have taken an interest in India, and we would like to work with you in facilitating greater trade and investment ties.

*****