SelectUSA – USA in open for business to Indian Investors
The US Consul General , along with US-India Investors’ Forum (USIIF), held a meeting for members of corporate India’s investor community , at the US Consulate General in Mumbai.
The meeting was organized to discuss SelectUSA’s upcoming programs with Seth Isenberg, International Investment Specialist, SelectUSA, and was followed by a luncheon.
The meeting was presided by Camille Richardson, Principal Commercial Officer, U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Consulate General, Mumbai. Also on the discussion panel was, Consul General Peter Haas, Dr. Bharat Singh, Chairman, USIIF and Manoj Gursahani – Vice Chairman, USIIF.
Beginning the discussions, Ms. Richardson said, “A large part of the US’s portfolio this year has been aimed at Indian Direct Investment in the US.” She added that India has emerged as one of the ten fastest growing sources of FDI in the US, and that data from the RBI shows that the US features among the top five destinations of FDI from India. “We are here today to see that grow”, she stated.
Consul General, Peter Haas who spoke next, thanked the USIIF for partnering with the Consulate. “It’s always great to exalt the virtues of investing in the US, but it’s always better when Indian colleagues exalt the virtues of investing in the US”, he said, explaining that Indian companies would be more ready to believe them.
He said that the US is indeed the number ‘one’ western nation for FDI in the World, but the country did not want to rest on this laurel, and would be actively asking companies to invest. He told those present that there are tremendous opportunities for investing in the US, citing “fantastic energy costs”, “a great regulatory environment” and “a talented workforce” as some of the country’s virtues. Speaking from the perspective of both countries, he said, “As Indian companies look to diversify investments and earnings, the ability to be present in the US, is huge.”
He said that the perception that obtaining a US visa is difficult is not true for the current day, stating “It is our job to make it as easy as possible for qualified people to get visas”, adding that this is across categories of US-bound travellers. He told those present that the US was, in fact, spending a lot of time on MICE travel, because investment decisions are usually taken after travel to the country.
Seth Isenberg started off his address saying that he wanted to reiterate the message from the Department of Commerce that “The US is open for business”. Driving home this point, he said that there are a lot of concrete happenings to attract investments across the Federal and State Governments, as well as locally.
Speaking about Select USA, Mr. Isenberg said that the body is the “Federal Office” for foreign investments, and that it answers all investment related queries for interested parties as well as companies who already have interests in the US. He said that SelectUSA serves as ombudsman, offering accurate and timely answers.
Regarding questions about incentives, Mr. Isenberg told those present that with respect to the Federal level, there is a database on www.selectusa.gov. He said that a private firm is currently working on developing a similar database for the state level, and this is expected to be ready within a few months. As regards localities, he said, “We will be happy to connect you with the relevant Economic Development Organizations”.
Speaking about SelectUSA’s first investment summit that took place last year, Mr. Isenberg said that India’s delegation was one of the largest by country. He said that there was to be a second summit in Washington DC, on March 23-24, 2015, which would be on an even larger scale, and he called for people to attend.
Ms. Richardson then opened the floor for questions to be addressed to Mr. Isenberg.
When asked whether there was someone to lead such delegations, Ms. Richardson said that Kamal Vora, Commercial Specialist, US Consulate, leads delegations from Mumbai.
Answering a question about incentives in different businesses or localities, Mr. Isenberg cautioned those present about how to consider the same. He said that incentives are important to sweeten the deal, but Indian companies often tend to compare “apples with apples”. He advised those present to look beyond incentives towards more important considerations.
Responding to a question about whether low energy costs is showing a trend for energy-intensive industries to shift to the US, Mr. Isenberg said that the US was seeing a growing trend for what he called “re-shoring”. “Many companies in the manufacturing sector that previously preferred outsourcing, are moving functions back to the US”, he said. He opined that there was a trend that seems predictive of stable energy prices.
Ms. Richardson then acknowledged some key partners of the US Commercial Service, who were present at the meeting. “The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce and US India Investors Forum has been very involved with organising seminars for SelectUSA”, she said. She said that one other partner that the US was looking to get into a more formalized arrangement with is the EXIM Bank of India.
Ms. Richardson then introduced Yaduvendra Mathur, Chairman and Managing Director of EXIM, and Divid Sinate, Chief General Manager, and requested Mr. Mathur to say a few words.
Mr. Mathur talked about how the EXIM Bank played a role in supporting India’s bilateral trade and investment relations and towards this end has recently set up an Overseas Representative Office in Washington DC. He told those present that EXIM Bank works with many international clients and multi-national institutions, like the World Bank, etc. He said that it also has an MOU with EXIM US, IMF and other government agencies. “We are in talks to enter a Memorandum of Intent with SelectUSA”, he said.
Mr. Mathur told those in the room that for matters related to mergers and acquisitions, and overall structural finance, the EXIM Bank could be looked at as a viable partner. He said that the EXIM Bank had invested about USD 750 to 800 Million in the US, in various sectors encompassing software, IT, power, metals, consumer global economics, auto ancillaries, etc. He then talked about the Bank’s 1.7 billion dollar Essar project in Minnesota.
Mr. Mathur reiterated that if large or emerging companies want to do business in the US, EXIM Bank would be happy to facilitate the process of setting up JV's, subsidiaries, etc.
Manoj Gursahani, V.Chairman USIIF spoke a little bit about the USIIF. He said that the forum was only two years old, and that it was focused on qualitative growth. “Our single-minded focus is SelectUSA and FDI investments in the US”, he stated. He said there was a lot of interest from an Indian perspective, as far as FDI in the US is concerned.
Mr. Gursahani talked about Road Shows being carried out across the country which shed light on the keen interest in the SME segment in the US. Mr. Gurshani said that SMEs would therefore be a key-focus for outreach programs and the USIIF would work with partners like the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce and EXIM Bank, and with SelectUSA for the match-making process.
Camille Richardson then announced that there is going to be an event jointly held by the Consulate and USIIF, at The Marriott, in Juhu, Mumbai, on the 20th of June, 2014, to promote investment in North America. She said that there was going to be a teaming up with Canada for the event. She said that the event would also be an opportunity for Indian companies to talk to other companies who have successfully invested in the US.
USIIF’s Dr. Bharat Singh, Chairman-SBRC, Aditya Birla, then spoke about the Group’s investments in the US, citing Novelis and Columbian Chemicals as two hugely successful examples. He said that the Aditya Birla Group, being largely into manufacturing, he can vouch that “The US is a fantastic part of the world to operate in”. He said “the country has fantastic manufacturing capabilities”. He urged people into manufacturing to look to the US.
In conclusion, Ms. Richardson reiterated what Mr. Gursahani said about SMEs, stating that “1/4 of all SMEs in the US are funded by immigrants, and 1/3 of these are Indian”. She thanked all for coming, and the meeting broke up for lunch.