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Come and see potential of India: Anil Ambani to US firms

business Updated: Apr 02, 2011 12:03 IST

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India, which along with China is one of the world's "documented growth stories", offers some of the largest opportunities for American companies and the "challenge" for US companies is to come and see the "potential of India", says Anil Ambani, chairman of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, one of India's most successful corporations.

"The opportunities for US companies is vast volume markets of the world," he said participating in a panel discussion on "The Shifting Global Economy and Implications for Trade" at the US Exim Bank Annual Conference here Friday.

"The challenge for US companies is to come and really see the potential of India," Ambani told America's premier forum for discussing US trade policy and developing strategies to expand the role exports play in the US economy.

"India and China are now documented growth stories for many decades. Their very large needs of infrastructure across all sector is a great opportunity for US exports," he said.

From the perspective of the two Asian giants, the world has moved away from the dialogue in the 80s and the 90s of India or China to India and China, opening up a vast vista for global cooperation, he said.

"While most of developed world is trying to stimulate the environment to create jobs, our challenge is around inflation, particularly food inflation," Ambani said because the growing purchasing o power of their billions of people is pushing the demand for better quality.

Unlike the developed world, to achieve 8-10 percent growth rate on a sustained basis is really possible for both India and China because it's driven by their growing prosperity - "and that's a huge potential for growth," Ambani said.

Neither India nor China needs to think about depending on this very large capacity, where it will be consumed "because consumption engines are sitting in their own country," he said.

Noting that India is now China's largest trading power, a coveted position held by the US for many many decades, and India has become China's largest market, Ambani asked Americans to take a cue from the Chinese and learn to "think Indian."

"The Chinese executive in India has learnt to speak Hindi, learnt local customs and whatever his Indian partner thinks, he has gone and imbibed that," he said.

The Chinese, Ambani said, have indeed acted on the new age adage: go global, act local. But few US companies are doing it.

The head of one of the largest conglomerates in India also asked US companies to take advantage of the "power of language" with nearly everybody in the current generation in India speaking English and in the next generation everybody will speak 'American'.

India also held a demographic advantage as in less than a decade it will have just half a billion people under the age of 30, Ambani said.

Admitting that it would also pose a challenge in terms of education, he said the only way for India to reap the demographic dividend is the need for creating infrastructure and education or "intellectual infrastructure", social infrastructure and physical infrastructure.

"I think those will be the prime movers for India in the next stage of growth," Ambani said noting that India has transformed itself from a very large agriculture economy to one where more than 50 percent are engaged in the services sector.

In reply to a question, he said India welcomed Foreign Direct Investment, but prioritised in certain sectors. Its integration with global economy is "both careful and calibrated" in the country's interest.

This year's Ex-Im Bank Annual Conference focusing on "Government at the Speed of Business," features plenary sessions and workshops focused on small business exporters, market and industry opportunities, and the Obama Administration's National Export Initiative.