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Modi set for high-wire business diplomacy in New York

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modi-us

NEW YORK: It’s business with a capital B for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York. Expect PM Modi to drum up the India growth story and ease of doing business as he courts the corporate elite of the US on his day 1 in the US’ financial capital.  

On September 24, Mr Modi is set for back-to-back meetings with titans of the US financial and corporate world. Building on the first-ever Strategic and Commercial Dialogue held in Washington ahead of his visit, Mr Modi will be looking to use his persuasive powers and eloquence to entice big-ticket American investors to cash in on the India growth opportunity and upscale investments in one of the world’s fastest growing companies. The CEOs and tech titans Mr Modi will meet in New York and San Francisco are influential figures in the US establishment, and their perception matters to the future trajectory of India-US economic relationship. Together, these business moguls comprise more than $4 trillion in their turnover, which is double the GDP of India.  

The roundtable meet on the financial sector, which Mr Modi will address in New York, will be therefore important to gauge the US business’ assessment of India’s attractiveness as an investment destination. As India’s economy grows with a sizeable workforce in the services sector, India is looking to bolster its financial services sector by welcoming more players, and US financial giants top India’s wish list.

Michael Bloomberg, a business tycoon and former Mayor of New York, Ms Marilyn A. Hewson, Chairman, President and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation and Mike Burke, Chairman and CEO, AECOM are among top business leaders Mr Modi will meet in New York. Lockheed Martin, one of the leading defence manufacturing companies, is looking to set up a project office in India and looks set to play an important role in the Make in India campaign.

During his visit to San Francisco, Mr Modi would meet Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google CEO Mr Sundar Pichai, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with whom he would take questions from investors in a town hall session. IT industry is one of the largest employment generating industries in India and with Facebook and Google having big operations in India, Mr Modi would like to leverage it to woo more tech investors into India.

Amid the slowdown of major economies like China, India is still seen by many as a bright spot, growing at a healthy rate with strong macroeconomic indicators and fundamentals. Mr Modi will play up on these strengths to pitch the India story when he meets these business and industry honchos. Corporate honchos have a long wish list for India, and will be pushing hard for fast-tracking of second generation economic reforms.  India has promised to implement measures to ease business, create a conducive business environment, liberalise the tax regime and a host of other reforms. The two countries have resolved to multiply bilateral trade five-fold from $100 billion to 500 $billion.   

During the first strategic and commercial dialogue held in Washington on September 22, the two sides agreed to set up an innovation forum. The forum will consider a set of rotating topics to ignite and scale innovation, increase related two-way investment and trade, support the advancement of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and identify where specific skill sets are needed to propel the innovation ecosystem forward.

The business meetings in New York will set the stage for PM Modi’s meeting with President Barack Obama in New York on September 28, where again the focus will be on increasing an arc of convergence over a host of economic and strategic issues to propel the defining partnership of the 21st century onto a higher trajectory.

(Sridhar Ramaswamy contributed inputs for this article)


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Manish Chand is Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network, www.indiawrites.org, a portal and e-magazine focused on international affairs, emerging powers and the India Story.

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