Obama to meet with US business leaders in India

Obama to meet with US business leaders in India

Washington: President Barack Obama will meet a delegation of top US business leaders during his trip to India, the White House said on Monday, as US corporations explore the Asian country’s fast-growing market.

The business leaders will include Boeing Co’s Jim McNerney, Honeywell International Inc’s David Cote and General Electric Co’s Jeffrey Immelt, the White House said.

Obama leaves Washington on 5 November for a nine-day trip to India, Indonesia, South Korea — to attend a Group of 20 meeting of rich and emerging economic powers — and Japan.

The president, as well as US commerce secretary Gary Locke, will speak at a US-India Business Council event on 6 November in Mumbai, dedicating the start of Obama’s first visit to India to promoting better commercial links and trade.

The council says more than 200 US. companies will attend the Mumbai event, representing a major delegation from American business that reflects the importance of India.

“A strong and rising, economically powerful India is a great American opportunity for the creation of jobs here at home," said Ron Somers, president of the US-India Business Council.

One of the key issues Obama wants to emphasize during his visit is US exports, which he has pledged to double within five years as a way to boost domestic growth and job creation.

Obama will leave the United States just days after the 2 November congressional elections in which his Democrats are expected to be punished by voters for stubbornly high US unemployment of nearly 10%.

Somers told Reuters that India’s economic rise “is an extraordinary, historic market opportunity for American companies and so what we hope on Saturday, 6 November is to raise that profile."

Terry McGraw, chief executive of McGraw Hill Companies Inc, and Indra Nooyi, chief executive of Pepsico Inc, are also among the business leaders Obama will meet in Mumbai, said White House deputy communications director Jen Psaki.

Business opportunities are abundant. India plans to renew its Soviet-supplied armory, making it a key market for Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp as the United States competes with the Europeans and Russia to sell it 126 fighter jets in a deal worth $11 billion.

But there are obstacles to greater trade. For one thing, India wants Obama to abolish export restrictions on dual-use technology that could be used to build nuclear weapons, imposed after India exploded its latest nuclear device in 1998.

In addition, US firms dislike an Indian civil nuclear liability law that curbs the appeal of doing business in the country.