Modi, Obama to address CEOs, aim at boosting India-US business ties

  • HT Correspondent and Agencies, Agencies, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 26, 2015 16:18 IST

After the symbolism of the Republic Day celebrations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama on Monday will get down to business by taking the bilateral ties between the two countries to the next level.

PM Modi and Obama will hold two meetings and address top CEOs from both countries later in the day signifying the thrust of the US president's three-day visit.

The two leaders will meet the India-US CEO Forum and also address a India-US business summit. Thirty US business leaders - including Pepsico's Indira Nooyi, McGraw Hill Financial's Harold McGraw and Mastercard's Ajay Banga - are going to be present during the meetings.

From India 17 CEOs will attend the India-US CEO Forum which will be co-chaired by Cyrus Mistry of Tata Sons and Honeywell's David M Cote. Reliance Industries chairperson Mukesh Ambani, Bharti Enterprises chief Sunil Mittal, ICICI Bank CMD Chanda Kochhar, Reliance Group chairperson Anil Ambani, and other Indian and US business entrepreneurs are also expected to be present.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley and commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman are expected to attend.

Trade between India and the US rose five-fold from $12 billion in 2001-02 to $62 billion in 2014-15. Estimates suggest trade between the two countries is expected to cross $100 billion soon.

Obama's landmark visit, which began on Sunday with a clutch of deals and a personal bonding with PM Modi where the two leaders announced plans to unlock billions of dollars in nuclear trade and to deepen defence ties.

Most significant was an agreement on two issues that, despite a groundbreaking 2006 pact, had stopped US companies from setting up nuclear reactors in India and had become one of the major irritants in bilateral relations.

India and the US also renewed their 10-year Defence Framework Agreement and agreed to pursue joint development and production projects.

On Monday, the focus will be on PM Modi's pet initiative Make in India, with efforts to create the right atmosphere for massive bilateral business cooperation.

India and the US will resume talks on a bilateral investment treaty that has been in the works for almost seven years but is being held back by several issues, including differences over intellectual property rights.

The treaty has been discussed only sporadically since 2008 and is stalled over differences on a range of prickly issues, including intellectual property rights. The proposed pact is aimed at protecting investments between the two nations.

The two leaders were looking forward to enhanced engagement on intellectual property rights in 2015 a ministry of external affairs statement said. Progress was made on intellectual property during the last round of the India-US trade policy forum held in November, it said.

According to commerce ministry data, India's exports to the US have risen from $9 billion in 2001-02 to around $39 billion in 2014-15. The US has been India's top export destination through these years. During the period, imports from the US registered a steep rise from $3 billion in 2001-02 to $22 billion in 2014-15.

During 2000 and 2013, foreign direct investment flows from the US to India were estimated at $14 billion, nearly 6% of the total FDI.

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