America Inc feels Obama India visit to improve market access

Saturday, November 6, 2010

MUMBAI - Top American firms feel the four-day India visit of US President Barack Obama will help improve market access for their goods and also go a long way in creating jobs back home - an agenda now at the top for his administration.

US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who has accompanied the US president, told a business meeting here Saturday that Indian policies toward foreign investment, as also for exports, were not exactly transparent.

“These rules will halt rather than stimulate foreign investment. All that the US business seeks is level-playing field for its companies and a genuine competition,” Locke told the meeting attended by who’s who of businesses of the two sides.

The senior administration official also sought to ally apprehensions that the move to hike the visa fee to shore up an additional $600 million to beef up security along its borders with Mexico was not aimed at Indian companies.

American business leaders said there was a perception that India’s position on market access and foreign investment needed to improve.

“When you’ve gone through an economic downturn to the extent that we have, a lot of countries very easily go protectionist,” said Terry McGraw, chief executive of McGraw-Hill, which owns Standard and Poor’s and is chairman of the US-India Business Council.

“We have seen a lot of protectionism around the world. You can’t win in a protectionist kind of view,” McGraw said, adding it was Obama’s resolve to ease trade controls for US goods and create more jobs in the US.

The council he chairs, along with The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), were the main organisers of the business events here Saturday.

According to Dave Cote, chairman and chief executive of Honeywell, there were strong expectations that the outdated export control systems that exists between the US and India may be unshackled during Obama’s visit.

“I am very hopeful these rumours become true. I think this is good for trade. This also means it is good for jobs in both countries,” added Cote, another prominent member of the 200-strong business delegation during the US president’s visit.

Filed under: Economy

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