After China, India is emerging as the new destination for American business with several states planning to send trade missions to take advantage of its "fast-growing market".
Governors from Virginia and Iowa have been there, and Minnesota, California and Utah are lining up gubernatorial visits for this year, according to Michael Taylor of the US-India Business Alliance that helped organise the earlier missions.
"There is sort of a stampede thing. India is very much on everyone's radar scope now," said Taylor, the alliance's executive vice president, who has been in contact with at least a dozen states about possible trips.
"It's just a question of when they decide to go and how they decide to go. I think they feel a necessity to do it. The China mission was something you had to tick off. India has now become that."
Minnesota's Republican governor Tim Pawlenty is planning to lead a 30-member trade mission to India Oct 20-27 with stops in New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai.
"We view this as a tremendous opportunity to better acquaint Minnesota with India and better acquaint India with Minnesota," said Pawlenty, announcing the trip to a country that now makes up a tiny fraction of Minnesota's roughly $14 billion in annual manufactured exports.
The agenda will include market and industry presentations, networking events, business roundtable discussions, customised one-on-one business matchmaking meetings, and other similar events.
In a message to Minnesota business leaders about the trade mission to the fast-growing market of India, Pawlenty said, "I invite you to take a closer look at business opportunities in India, and I encourage you to consider applying to join the delegation."
There are many compelling reasons for all types of Minnesota companies to expand trade in India, he said and outlined "just a few":
* Fast-growing market. With a population of more than one billion, India is the world's fastest growing, free-market democracy. India's GDP is growing at about nine percent annually. US manufactured exports to India reached $6.8 billion in 2005 - an increase of 111 percent since 2000. Minnesota manufactured exports over the same period rose 208 percent to $85 million.
* Major infrastructure improvements. Over the next several years, India's transportation, energy, environmental, health care, high-tech, and defence sectors are expected to undergo major overhaul, which will create greater demand for products and services.
* Tremendous consumer demand. India's middle class (200 million people and growing) has increasing purchasing power and increasing consumer demand.
* Pro-American environment. With an overwhelmingly favourable impression of the United States, India is one of the most pro-American countries in the world and is eager to work with American businesses.
* Youth power. More than 58 percent of the Indian population is under age 20. That's more than 564 million people - nearly twice the total population of the United States. This younger population has an increasing desire for high-tech products and services.