A team of American businessmen that was in India to explore investment opportunities, particularly in the defence, energy and agricultural sectors, has described Tamil Nadu as a "gateway state".
Lt Gen (retired) Dan Christman, senior vice president (international affairs) in the US Chamber of Commerce, was leading the 38-member delegation.
"Tamil Nadu is a gateway state" for international business as it connected both to the east and the west, he said at a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) initiative in Chennai to interact with government officials and business leaders from southern India.
David Hopper, the US consul general in Chennai, said that by March 2007 "we expect direct investment by US firms in India to exceed $1 billion".
Calling India's defence procurement arrangements "intricate", Hopper said the US-India defence relationship has been improving.
"US companies are getting acquainted with India's rather intricate procurement arrangements and educate their counterparts here about our (US) systems... about our new, sophisticated US military equipment. This is an area of significant commercial promise," he added.
Hopper also announced that US Energy Secretary Sam Bodman would be visiting India in the next few months.
He also said: "Improving India's agricultural production and its agricultural produce market is one of the most critical areas of focus in Indo-US intellectual and technical collaboration."
Tamil Nadu Power Minister Arcot Veerasamy invited US companies to invest in the power sector and told the American visitors that "atomic power companies in the US" have also expressed "their intention to start power plants in Tamil Nadu".
He noted that Russian technology was already helping generate 6,000 MW of electricity from the Koodankulam nuclear power facility in southern Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu Industry Secretary Shaktikanta Das said the state has emerged as the leather, textiles and automobile hub, but it is also "emerging as an electronic hub for hardware and has been slotted at the top by international players conducting due diligence studies".
Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corp chairman S Ramasundaram said that by 2015, 50 per cent of all mobile handsets in the world would be made in the state.