Growing Opportunities for U.S.-India Trade and Investment
Dezan Shira & Associates’ India Country Manager, Gunjan Sinha, visited Miami, Florida for the first stop on her U.S. tour, moderating an expert panel on U.S.-India business relations and trade. Her next stop will be at the Leading Edge Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois.
On May 30, Indian and American business leaders converged at the “Growing Opportunities for U.S.-India Trade and Investment” conference in Miami, Florida to discuss the potential for increasing cross-border cooperation in commerce and industry.
Following pro-business leader Narendra Modi’s landslide victory in national elections last month, American companies are increasingly eager to explore investment and partnership opportunities with their Indian counterparts. In recent months, the U.S. has also stepped up efforts to engage India’s new government, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry being among the first to congratulate Modi on his electoral victory.
Featuring seminars and an expert panel discussion moderated by Dezan Shira & Associates’s India Country Manager, Gunjan Sinha, on promoting U.S.-India bilateral trade, the event was organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Indo-American Market Gateway (IAMG), Enterprise Florida and the India-U.S. Chamber of Commerce in South Florida.
“An increasing number of American companies are now seeking to take advantage of India’s favorable post-election investment environment. American companies in particular are well placed to contribute to India’s economic growth through foreign direct investment and the forging of closer relationships with their Indian counterparts,” commented Gunjan Sinha.
“Oftentimes, establishing a local presence in India can be the key to long-term success,” she added.
Manny Mencia, Senior Vice President of International Trade and Business Development at Enterprise Florida, echoed this sentiment.
“India is one of the fastest growing markets in the world for U.S. products, and I believe Florida is our nation’s 3rd largest high tech center. I think our large clusters of tech companies can find excellent opportunities in the Indian market,” Mencia said.
“Florida, as the principal business center for Latin America, can also provide an excellent platform for Indian companies seeking to expand into the region. In recent years, Indian investment in Florida has expanded significantly, particularly in the life sciences and IT sectors. With a new and pro-business government coming to power in India, I believe there will be great potential for expanding bilateral trade and investment,” he elaborated.
Panelists at the conference discussed how to best promote and strengthen bilateral trade relations, and represented a number of U.S. and Indian companies with significant cross-border operations.
“The recent panel discussion and seminar provided attendees a bird’s eye view of India’s business environment, as well as practical tools and techniques to utilize when entering this robust market. The panelists were knowledgeable and shared their expertise, insights and provided in-depth details on business and trade practices, basic logistics and cultural norms. The event also presented local business owners with valuable information to foster business relationships and opportunities with India,” explained Elizabeth Moss, Senior Executive Secretary at Miami-Dade County’s Economic Development & International Trade Unit.
Several additionally reflected upon their experiences in both India and the United States, and key challenges their businesses faced in each.
“The fact that they speak English and that Indians are well versed in U.S. products and technologies is a positive. The negative is that the cost of manufacturing in India is extremely low and the import duties high, so it is harder to compete there with U.S.-made products,” commented Sharon Rinehimer, Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Florida-based RGF Environmental Group.
“For a small company just looking to get started to export into India, I feel it’s best to utilize the programs and trade missions set up by Enterprise Florida and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Both can assist in finding qualified distributors or agents in the country and offer grants for gold key trips and for companies to attend trade shows in the country,” she added.
Another panelist, Kris Nightengale, Vice President of Sales at India-based Jain Irrigation, commented on some key factors that make the U.S. and India especially compatible trading partners.
“There are so many things that make India and the U.S. natural trade partners. One example would be in the basic products that make up a western economy. In western economies, we have many product classifications that have become consumer commodities. Western companies that provide commoditized products have focused on maximizing manufacturing efficiencies, and typically can’t conceive of the value that further investment in product advancement may have.”
“Conversely, India may just be adopting these product classes into their economy and they represent growth opportunities. Therefore, financially underperforming western companies in these commodity businesses represent good acquisition targets for Indian companies. India’s developing, highly educated, and highly productive workers allow them to conduct R&D at a much lower investment than in western economies. As a result, an improved commoditized product has the possibility of shedding the commodity status and enjoying a significant competitive advantage in western markets. Likewise, the R&D investments will likely yield further production efficiencies that can yield a more affordable product which drives more rapid adoption in India,” he continued.
Speaking to India Briefing after the conference, Dimitrios Jimmy Nares, Chief of Miami-Dade’s Economic Development and International Trade Unit, expressed optimism that trade between India and South Florida would continue to increase well into the future.
“The Economic Development and International Trade (EDIT) unit of Miami-Dade County well understands the importance of India’s emerging economy. Almost 7 years ago, EDIT led a business development mission to Mumbai and New Delhi. The delegation included a total of 14 participants which consisted of government officials, other local economic development agencies and private sector representatives who engaged in numerous high level government meetings and business to business matchmaking meetings. Merchandise trade between India and South Florida in 2006 amounted to US$277 million, and in 2013 increased to US$628 million. We are excited to continue working on ways to further increase trade between our two communities,” Nares said.
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