US-Commercial Service, US-India Investors’ Forum (USIIF) and US-India Importers’ Council (USIIC) jointly hosted a dinner reception in honor of Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, on November 19, 2015, at the Mumbai Cricket Association Club. Addresses were made by a few key members of these bodies and Governor Haley.
In his welcome address, Dr. V. Rangaraj, Founder Chairman of USIIC said USIIC and USIIF were extremely honoured, by the visit of the Governor and the large turnout of businessmen and corporate professionals, who he said are “instrumental in promoting Indo-US economic relations”.
Dr. Rangaraj said that the USIIC is a private sector initiative under the purview of President Obama’s National Export Initiative. He said that the body works closely with SMEs in the US and small importers in India, towards promoting exports of US goods and services to India. He said that USIIC helps US exporters engage with India in a manner consistent with the initiatives of the US Commerce Department.
In his address, Mr. Manoj Gursahani, Vice Chairman of USIIF, said, “There is currently a lot of buoyancy about trade between the two nations. We are committed to enhance and facilitate trade”. Speaking about USIIF’s focus areas, Mr. Gursahani said that it is particularly looking at small, medium and emerging sectors. He stated, “Indians are looking for investment opportunities in the US and US companies are looking to enhance their footprint in various products and services, and the USIIF plays the role of a match-maker”. Mr. Gursahani said USIIF is currently building a B2B portal that should go a long way to facilitate trade.
Mr. Gursahani stated, “We plan to take a larger delegation than China to the SelectUSA Summit 2015”, adding “This will expose Indian Businessmen to new business opportunities”.
“On behalf of USIIF, we would like to extend our services and full support to you, your initiatives and the State of South Carolina”, Mr. Gursahani told Governor Haley.
Speaking about Prime Minister Modi’s meeting with President Obama during his recent visit to the US, Consul General Thomas Vajda said that the two leaders were able to chart a new vision for a better future and expanded ties – one anchored in our shared values, principles, and in particular our shared commitment to expand trade and investment ties between our countries, societies and people”.
“There are a lot of opportunities to expand co-operation from an economic and commercial perspective” Consul General Vajda opined. “There is already a strong backbone on which to build”, he pointed out, stating that India has the fastest growing and largest FDI to the US. Consul General Vajda said that the Consulate is doing everything it can to facilitate trade. He said the US is confident it will remain the primary place to invest and do business in the world. He said that South Carolina is one of “the real success-stories” that has contributed to this.
Mr. Puneet Ahluwalia, Vice Chairman, USIIC, US Chapter, Washington DC, said the USIIC has chalked out sectors for active participation on both sides. He said that it creates a free-flow of conversation and exchange of ideas through various partnerships.
Among many flattering words, Mr. Ahluwalia introduced Governor Haley as “A proud daughter of Indian immigrants”, and “CEO of South Carolina”! He enlightened those present about Governor Nikki Haley being known for her many key reforms, including cutting off waste, streamlining operations, economical development, job creation and educational reforms.
“It’s a pleasure to be here in Mumbai”, said Governor Haley, starting off her powerful speech. “It makes me incredibly proud to see the direction that India is moving in”, she said. “We had the opportunity to see Prime Minister Modi in New York. Very few leaders can fill Madison Square Garden”, she stated, adding “The excitement and optimism of the Indian community in America is fantastic”. She said that the energy in India is equally amazing.
Governor Haley said that a few years ago, the economy of South Carolina was not doing well. She talked about how her state looked at its business environment, permits and regulatory rules, got into customer services, put business people on the boards, capped damages on law suits, and focused on ‘made in South Carolina’. “If you take care of your businesses, you take care of your economy, of education, of healthcare”, she advised.
Not only have we dropped the unemployment rate by 5 points, we now build planes with Boeing, we have the number ‘1’ BMW producing plant in the world, we are the number ‘1’ tyre-producing state in the country. “The list goes on”, she said proudly. “95% of South Carolina’s economy is small businesses”, Governor Haley stated. She said that if any company comes to South Carolina, they ask it to hire residents or use South Carolina businesses. “We have one of the best training programs in the country”, she said, adding “We don’t have businesses conform to our training programs, we conform our training to the businesses. We train develop skill-sets at our expense and hand them over to companies that come to South Carolina – the success rate of the people they hire for their companies is 92%”, she said. We make sure the loyalty in South Carolina is very strong. “The average time that a person works for a manufacturing company in South Carolina is 25 years”, Governor Haley stated.
Speaking about tourism, Governor Haley said her state has been deemed Number ‘1’ vacation spot in the country for the last four years, and, the number ‘2’ vacation spot in the world – Charleston, South Carolina.
“We are here in India because we see the opportunities. South Carolina has done the same things that India is going to do – We know that the path that you are on is a path that works. We also know that it’s a path that we want to be a part of”, Governor Haley said. “It’s personal for me to know that we will be recruiting companies from India. South Carolina is the third best state to do business in. It is the number ‘one’ best state when it comes to cost of doing business”. She said that the main focus was on quality and being successful.
Akil Hirani, member of USIIF and Managing Partner of Majmudar & Partners gave the vote of “thanks”, and an enjoyable evening of networking followed, over cocktails and dinner.