Over 200 Top Chief utives Coming with Obama

By Arun Kumar

Washington, Oct 29 (IANS): With trade high on his agenda, some 200 odd top US business chiefs, including soft drink giant Pepsico's India-born CEO Indra Nooyi, are expected to join US President Barack Obama on his India visit next month.

Also expected are Honeywell CEO David M. Cote, who co-chairs the India-US CEO Forum with Tata group chairman Ratan Tata.

So is Terry McGraw, CEO of leading publishing house McGraw Hill, who took over from Nooyi as the chairman of the US Indian Business Council, representing 300 top US companies last June.

Two more of 12 US forum members, Louis Chênevert, CEO of aerospace major United Technologies Corp, and Ellen Kullman, chief executive of chemicals giant DuPont, may also be joining.

But there is no word yet whether Citigroup's Indian-American CEO Vikram Pandit is going.

Andrew Liveris, Chairman, CEO and President of The Dow Chemical Company had skipped last June's forum meeting here at the height of Bhopal gas leakage controversy and it's not known whether he would give Delhi a miss too.

Only last week underscoring the "significance" of the "important economic relationship" with India, Obama's Press Secretary Robert Gibbs voiced the US hope of getting "some tangible results" from Obama's India visit.

Describing it as "an important economic relationship," he also made clear that Obama will talk a lot about "what we have to do to create jobs, to grow our exports, to ensure (and) that it just doesn't fall on American consumers to drive world demand."

"That's a lot of what you'll hear the President talk about on that trip, and we'll hopefully have some tangible results from it," Gibbs said.

US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who would be accompanying the president, also told a medical technology conference that "trade is high on the agenda" in New Delhi.

And to get Washington and Delhi to "catch up to the business and innovation cooperation that is already happening in New York and Mumbai," as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put it, the CEO Forum has recommended several "interesting and ambitious ideas" in four core areas of infrastructure; clean energy; education and e-health/biotechnology.

Among the deliverables recommended for the Obama visit are "creation of $10 billion debt fund for development of infrastructure in India, collaboration under the National Solar Mission of India, a long term initiative on diabetes research and treatment, linkages between educational institutions and joint research in clean energy, including bio-fuels."

Painting a rosy picture of India's long-run growth prospect, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the CEOs in June that "India offers investment opportunities in excess of $850 billion over the next five years" with an envisaged investment of $1 trillion in the infrastructure sector.

USIBC has also organised a Business and Entrepreneurship Summit in the Indian financial capital of Mumbai Nov 6 featuring a keynote address by Obama demonstrating his priority "on creating jobs for America by cultivating deeper commercial ties with India, the world's largest free-market economy."

USIBC said its goal is to enhance two-way trade, now surpassing $50 billion, spur investment by India into the US, create opportunities for greater US export-led growth of high technology and high-end manufactured goods that will support India's $1.7 trillion infrastructure build-out, and foster new frontiers of technology collaboration.


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