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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

India-US CEOs brainstorm to take business ties to new level

Top Indian and US business leaders and policymakers Tuesday began a brainstorming session to fine-tune ways of taking forward their business ties in key priority areas like trade and investment and an easier visa regime.

The India-US CEOs Forum meeting provides an “opportunity of reviewing the identified areas where deficiencies exist and how to improve those deficiencies”, said Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who leads the high-level Indian official team.

The forum, with 12 top CEO’s from each side, was “rejuvenated” by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama during the Indian leader’s first state visit of the Obama presidency last November.

The reconstituted forum then met to identify “areas where India and the USA could co-operate and work together in close co-operation” as mandated by Obama and Manmohan Singh, Mukherjee told a group of CEOs from both sides on the eve of Tuesday’s session.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia are also on the high-level official Indian team attending the CEO Forum meeting at the State Department.

US Secretary of State Secretary Hillary Clinton is joining a luncheon co-hosted by Deputy Secretary Jim Steinberg and Under Secretary Robert Hormats for the forum, co-chaired by Tata group chairman Ratan Tata from the Indian side and Honeywell chief executive David M. Cote from the US side.

The forum has defined six priority initiatives, which are promotion of trade and industry, creation of an infrastructure development fund, promote technology exchange in agriculture, bio-technology and nano technology, partner in skills development, set up an Indo-US Centre for Industrial R&D and establish a dispute resolution mechanism.

Key issues identified for implementation by the forum in April 2008 included education and development of skills, funding of growth, research for alternative energy, visas, civil aviation and air traffic control, electricity.

The Indian business team includes Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, Infosys Technologies CEO S. Gopalakrishnan, Bharti group chairman Sunil Bharati Mittal, ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar and HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh.

Among those on the US side are Pepsico’s Indra Nooyi, Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit, United Technologies Corporation’s Louis Chenevert, JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon and McGraw Hill Companies chairman Terry McGraw.

The forum was first constituted by Manmohan Singh and then US president George W. Bush in July 2005 with a mandate to develop a roadmap for increasing partnership and cooperation at the business level.

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