The present wave of corruption scandals in India doesn’t seem to have deterred American businesses.
Dismissing the scams, US commerce secretary Gary Locke, who wrapped up his six-day business development mission to India in Mumbai on Friday said: “Headlines you read today need not necessarily be the issues of tomorrow.”
On Friday, Locke met the city’s Dabbawala Association at Churchgate station before they set off delivering tiffins to their two lakh clients. After sharing the tricks of their trade, Association president Raghunath Medge presented a shawl and white Gandhi topi to Locke, who sportingly put it while posing for photographs.
Terming the visit to be a “great success”, Locke later told reporters that the US government’s role in the mission was to “facilitate match-making”.
About 24 American companies were part of the trade mission that included stopovers in New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai.
“In any business culture it’s the relationships that matter,” said Locke adding that meeting set up between the visiting companies and Indian entities could land “potentially millions of dollar deals”.
Refusing to divulge specifics on deals signed, Locke mentioned that Transco, an Illinois-based company, which retrofits and improves nuclear facilities, had met officials from the Nuclear Power Corpration of India Limited while laser equipment company Enlight Technology from Vancouver had held meetings with Indian automobile companies.
Listing the impediments in doing business in India Locke said issues of unpredictability, lack of transparency in tender processes, limitations on foreign direct investment (FDI) in financial services, insurance sector and defense services are bigger stumbling blocks for American companies.
He cited the World Bank’s Doing Business 2011 report where India ranked 134 among 183 countries on ease of doing business.
However, when asked about impediments faced by Indian companies such as increase in H1 visa fees, Locke termed the measure as short term as it expires in 2015.
While in Mumbai, Locke met Reserve Bank of India governor, D Subbrao and CEOs including Reliance Industries chairman, Mukesh Ambani.