US Secretary of Commerce, John Bryson, Inaugurates USIIF (United States India-Investors Forum)

The US Commercial Service has recently formed ‘USIIF’(United Sates India-Investors Forum). On March 29, 2012, USIIF had the great honour of being officially inaugurated by US Secretary of Commerce, John Bryson, at ‘Rendez Vous’, Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai, at a special interactive session ‘USA: An Attractive Investment Destination’, hosted jointly by the USIIF and the CII (Confederation of Indian Industry). 

The main function of USIIF will be to make reliable, comprehensive information available to Indian investors about FDI opportunities in the US; to create a feedback process by way of which the US Federal and State Governments can discern the statutory adjustments that are needed to encourage more FDI from India on an ongoing basis; and to actually facilitate FDI investments between Indian investors and US companies across all industries and all states.

The USIIF has been formed under the Presidentship of Sanjay Sachdev (President and CEO, Tata Asset Management Ltd), and its Executive Committee comprises of eminent personalities from some of India’s top financial institutions. It is a membership-based Forum. Besides member institutions being assisted with all the processes that go into making an FDI investment in the US, including legalities and paper-work (some functions will be for a small additional fee), the USIIF will offer the opportunity for its members to interact with visiting US delegations, be briefed about latest investment opportunities, visit special trade shows, attend seminars on topics like taxation and U.S. State Laws, have access to a knowledge-base for Foreign Direct Investments, attend networking events, and develop working relationships with US-based companies. 

The USIIF will be working closely with The SelectUSA Committee, in the United States. Established by executive order of the President, SelectUSA is a White House initiative housed in the U.S. Department of Commerce. SelectUSA encourages, facilitates and accelerates business investment in the United States. SelectUSA responds to investor inquiries; organizes outreach to foreign governments and international investors; serves as ombudsman for business investors on issues involving federal agencies; and advises on policies that may affect United States competitiveness in attracting foreign investment. 

Moving forward, the USIIF plans to establish several sub-committees in areas of Manufacturing, Education, IT, Pharmaceuticals, Food Processing, Biotechnology, Electronics, Automotives, among others. This will bring very specialized expertise and guidance to potential investors.       

Addressing Secretary Bryson and the distinguished audience at the Inauguration of USIIF, Chairman Sanjay Sachdev said, “Indians today have a desire to go to the US, and so, we must provide Indian businesses with an avenue to expand there, especially SMEs.” He said that USIIF was established with this very purpose in mind. He appealed to people to join the Forum, which he said would act like a liaison between the Indian investment community and the US Government for addressing investor concerns. Mr. Sachdev said that there were a lot of opportunities in the US across all sectors, and that USIIF would give people knowledge about and access to these opportunities.  

Other speakers at the event included B. Muthuraman, President, CII and Vice Chairman, Tata Steel Ltd; K.R. Thakur, Director, Jyoti Structure Ltd, Ajay Piramal, Chairman, Piramal Group; and Chandrajeet Banerjee, Director General, CII.

A common thread that ran through most of the speeches was the positive experiences that people had in doing business in the US. K.R. Thakur, for example, said that the US has offered the most business-friendly environment. He said that right from the Government, to infrastructure and power utilities, the US is truly a land that gives people the opportunities to realize their dreams. In a similar vein, Ajay Piramal said that the Piramal Group has “deep faith” in US business, in its working-class management, in its transparency of operations, and in the legal system. He made an observation that political ties between India and the US have strengthened over the last two years, and with regard to US-India commercial access, he said to Secretary Bryson, “we seek your department’s support in our endeavours”.  

In his address, Secretary John Bryson quoted a powerful statement made by President Obama recently: “The US-India relation is one of the defining partnerships of the 21st Century.” Secretary Bryson went on to say “The business communities of both the countries have to give everything they can to ensure that this relationship realises its full potential.” He said that when Prime Minister Singh was Finance Minister, his decision to open the economy had unleashed India’s entrepreneurial spirit. He lauded India for registering a GDP growth of 8% last Fiscal Year, and for lifting millions out of poverty. He made the observation that bilateral trade of goods and services between India and the US had increased considerably. In a clear message of assurance that the US was as committed to investing in India, as it was to encourage Indian investments back home, he said, “In 20 years, 60 cities in India are likely to have a population of 1 million. The US is committed to helping India with infrastructure, energy, airports and roads. We want to help ensure strong and balanced growth”, he stated. “This must also characterize our investment relationship” he added. 

Speaking about US investments in India, Secretary Bryson said that the figure had grown to over $27 million, across manufacturing, services, IT, among some other sectors. He added that Indian investments in the US were also on the rise, citing Tata Chemicals and HCL Technologies as “great examples of public-private partnerships”.

Speaking about ‘Select USA’, Secretary Bryson described it as the first co-ordinated effort across US State Governments, to promote the US, adding that it is “strongly supported by USA”, and that India is among its top 10 focus countries. In a clear sign of the US’s outstretched arms to India, he said to the distinguished audience—an impressive representation of corporate India, “We welcome you”. He added that the US has an existing supply chain, strong patent system, new conducive legislations, and a talented and productive work-force. “Resources are available to you across the States”, he said. He went on to say that the US is aware of its shortfalls, and is committed to getting rid of obstacles. He said that the country was already working on reforming and simplifying the Corporate Tax Code, and lowering tax rates. He also reminded those present that India and the US had just recently renewed bi-lateral dialogue for the next 2 years, and could very possibly move into a Bilateral Investment Treaty in the future. “This”, he predicted, “would bring constructive changes”. 

Secretary Bryson said he believed that the world’s two largest democracies can build the world’s strongest business relationship. He appealed to the Stalwarts of Indian industry in the audience to join the US in sending a very clear message to the world – That our countries are serious global business leaders of the 21st century!

In a powerful conclusion, Secretary Bryson said “I hope you join the USIIF, and together we can find and maximize a win-win situation. “The future is bright, people are prospering and the global climate is right”.

He then went on to carry out the formal “Lighting of the Lamp”, and the USIIF was officially declared launched to much applause! 

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