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US Prez visit may open new biz vistas

India's ambassador to the US Meera Shankar says Obama's visit will open new opportunities for American companies to invest in the country.

Anuradha Shukla   New Delhi     Last Updated: November 4, 2010  | 10:15 IST

Meera Shankar, India's ambassador to the US, on Wednesday said US President Barack Obama's visit to India will open new opportunities for American companies to invest in India's infrastructure, agriculture and education sectors and help boost trade ties.

She said that many American companies and financial institutions are keen on investing in Indian infrastructure sector. The visit may initiate talks for the opening up of policy regime from both sides.

So far we have not seen much participation of US companies in sectors like infrastructure, agriculture and education. This visit will open dialogues in these sectors," Shankar said.

"We should expect to see more US companies invest in India's infrastructure sector, either directly or through putting together a financial package to form infrastructure funds for such projects," she said.

According to the India envoy, India Inc should look at the larger economic issues than to focus on micro issues. "The Indo-US bilateral trade holds a key importance for the relationship between the two countries. This visit would open new forums of trade partnership," Shankar added.

"We are expecting bilateral trade to grow by 30 per cent and reach $50 billion by March," said Shankar, releasing a report on "Indian investment in US" prepared by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) and Ernst and Young (E&Y). Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is another area where Shankar sees the possibilities of broader engagement between the two countries.

SMEs form a large part of the US business delegation accompanying President Obama. Shankar said education is an area where both countries seek larger participation.

"Many US universities are keen on investing in Indian education sector. They are just waiting for the right policy regime," Shankar said.

"Agriculture is another area where both countries are engaged in advanced talks for cooperation. Weather and monsoon forecast is one area where we can seek US expertise, which will help our farmers. Also, supply chain and distribution is where we expect investments, which in turn will help our agriculture," Shankar said.

This visit is expected to see good progress on the opening up of the technology transfer regime from the US side, Shankar pointed out.

On the defence sector, the Ambassador said, " We are more positively inclined towards expanding the scope of offsets to include related sectors like civil aviation and internal security and that itself will provide easier framework for companies to do business." Indian companies are increasingly investing in the US. During 2005- 09, India Inc has invested about $ 5.5 billion in greenfield acquisition deals and close to $ 20 billion in mergers and acquisitions (M&As), creating jobs.

India is already the second fastest growing investor in the US, after the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

According to the report released ahead of Obama's visit beginning November 6, the US has emerged as the preferred destination for investment with its share increasing from 5.7 per cent in 2009 to 6.5 per cent in 2010.

Informational technology (IT), pharmaceuticals and manufacturing sectors account for about 60 per cent of the deals in the last two years.

Meanwhile, Rajan Bharti Mittal, president, Ficci, said, " For any assessment of the state of Indo-US relations, one needs to look at the larger picture. One area of outsourcing should not be seen as a fulcrum of Indo- US engagement. The relations need to be judged in its totality."

Courtesy: Mail Today 

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