Industry tycoons tell Modi U.S. businesses will grow their footprints in India

Prime Minister Modi at the third annual Bloomberg Global Business Forum Sept. 25.

Business and Investment by American companies in India that seeks to become a $5 trillion economy by 2024 was a major focus of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s weeklong official visit to the U.S., including in New York where he met with 42 top American business leaders on the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly session to boost commercial ties between India and the U.S.

The Prime Minister pitched India as a key investment and trade destination to the global business community, highlighting the country’s economic and political strengths and pledging personal intervention to address any gaps.

“The engagements in New York continue, so does the focus on business, trade and investment ties. All set for the CEO Roundtable,” the prime minister tweeted ahead of the Sept. 25 exclusive roundtable discussion with global captains of industry from across 20 sectors.

At the third annual Bloomberg Global Business Forum (GBF) at the Plaza Hotel, keynoted by Modi that was followed by a conversation between the Prime Minister Modi and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action, the focus was on opportunities to strengthen global economic stability, tackle climate change, promote economic growth, and advance technologies that can improve society.

According to news reports and Indian government releases, Modi talked about India’s prospect as a global business destination, climate change and how he plans to make the country a $5 trillion economy. He said corporate tax rate cuts in India are just the beginning of reform and “a lot” is yet to come.

Noting that climate change is a huge concern and India can become a model for the world to follow, Modi said the key to making India a $5 trillion economy is to link its rules and laws to global standards. The government, he said, is working towards making sure that India utilizes its demographic capital.

Modi also said disaster resilience will soon become a huge market in India. “We’ve noticed that because of climate change recently, every time we hear about these disasters due to climate change, I think in that kind of a situation, we need to focus on disaster-resistant infrastructure. I think that this is going to become a very big market, it’s going to contribute to very large economic activity,” Modi said.

The companies that participated in the roundtable had a combined net worth of US$ 16.4 trillion, of which their net worth in India is US$ 50 billion. The roundtable commenced after Modi's plenary address to the Bloomberg Global Business Forum

The participants appreciated the “great strides” made by India in striving towards ease of doing business and many reforms which have led to a conducive environment for investors.

They complimented Modi on taking strong decisions with a focus on Ease of Doing Business and making India more investor-friendly. The leaders also mentioned that their companies remained committed to the growth story of India and, on the back of this, continued to grow their footprint in India.

The roundtable included Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO of IBM; Douglas McMillon, President and CEO of Walmart; James Quincey, Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola; Marillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin; Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JP Morgan; James D. Taiclet, CEO of American Tower Corporation and co-chair of the India-US CEO forum and Senior Executives from Apple, Google, Marriott, VISA, Mastercard, 3M, Warburg Pincus, AECOM, Raytheon, Bank of America, Pepsi , among others.

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and Invest India-organized interaction included the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal, and senior officials.

The CEOs briefly outlined their specific plans in India and also put forth recommendations to aid India’s efforts towards skill development, Digital India, Make in India, inclusive growth, green energy and financial inclusion.

There was also a private, two-hour meeting, with some CEOs, where discussions covered investing in India and addressing the challenges U.S. companies face while doing business in the emerging market country.

In response to the CEOs’ comments, Modi highlighted the continued political stability, predictability of policy, and his government’s pro-development and pro-growth policies. He also emphasized the development of tourism, plastic recycling and waste management initiatives, and to enhance the business of MSMEs (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises), especially those which create more opportunities for farmers and agriculture.

Modi urged the companies to leverage the Startup India innovation platforms in partnership with other countries – to make solutions not only for India, but for the world, including challenging issues like nutrition and waste management.

Earlier in Houston, where Modi addressed a gathering of 50,000 Indian-Americans at an event called Howdy Modi, and also had a roundtable with CEOs, India’s Petronet LNG Ltd. signed a $7.5 billion initial agreement in Modi’s presence to buy into Tellurian Inc.’s proposed liquefied natural gas terminal in Louisiana in what could potentially be one of the largest foreign investments in the U.S. to ship shale gas abroad.

“Today the buzzword in India is development. Collective efforts and inclusive growth. Today's greatest cry is to create a new India and we are working hard to realize this dream of a new India.,” Modi said in his speech at the NRG stadium event that was also addressed by President Trump.

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