Indian companies invest $10 bn in US, create 30,000 jobs

By Mayank Chhaya, IANS

Chicago : Indian companies, with an investment of over $10 billion, were introduced to America as a growing and influential force employing tens of thousands of Americans.

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India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath launched a road show here Tuesday around the theme “Investing in America: The Indian Story” under the joint leadership of the US-India Business Council and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).

In a measure of the growing US-India trade engagement, Nath spoke about the investment protection agreement between the two countries. “The investment protection agreement between US and India, it turns out, is going to be more for India than US,” Nath said in a lighter vein. “It is a different kind of agreement compared to the other countries because investments on both sides are so substantial. We hope to conclude it by end of the year.”

He said even 10 years ago not many could have imagined that Indian companies would be investing in the US. At best, he said, one could think in terms of investments in Dubai, Singapore, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh.

Indian companies with a strong US presence being showcased during the two days include Bharat Forge, Essar Group, HCL America, ITC Kitchens of India, Jet Airways, Mahindra USA, Ranbaxy, Tata Group, Thermax and Wockhardt USA.

Together these companies are in industries as diverse as steel, airlines, pharmaceuticals, auto parts, healthcare, hotels, chemicals and information technology. According to one study Indian companies have created 30,000 new jobs in the US.

The show comes at a time when the US economy is seen to be heading towards a recession, if it is not in one already. With a weak dollar, sluggish stock market, widespread housing credit crisis and overall sense of despair, the timing of the India road show may seem a bit off. However, there are many who argue that the fundamentals of the US economy are strong and a recession is merely a passing phenomenon.

The show’s focus was to create awareness within the US about a significant trend of Indian companies investing in the country as a measure of their growing confidence. In that context Amit Mitra, secretary-general of Ficci, mentioned how Indian companies had invested $45 billion worldwide with the US accounting for $10.25 billion last year.

“India is investing twice as much in the US as the US does in India,” Mitra told a select gathering at the city’s InterContinental Hotel Tuesday evening.

“There was a time when India’s agriculture minister knew more about Nebraska wheat’s future than about wheat in India. From that stage to now when Indian companies are investing heavily in the US it is quite a change,” he said.