Do away with old stereotypes, Obama tells Americans, Indians


Mumbai: US President Barack Obama Saturday asked American and Indian business leaders to look at issues like outsourcing and market access with a fresh perspective that reflected today’s market dynamics.

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Moving away from the election rhetoric on banning off-shoring activities to countries like India, Obama sought to dispel the notion that the world’s largest economy is becoming protectionist and said old perceptions and stereotypes need to put away with.

“I make no apology for what I have done to create jobs in the US. And I want to be honest, that for many Americans their only experience with trade and globalisation has been a shuttered factory or a job that has been shipped overseas,” Obama told a business summit at the Trident Hotel here on the first day of his maiden four-day visit to India.

“And there still exists a caricature of India as a land of call centres and back-offices that cost American jobs. That’s a real perception,” the president added.

Nudging India to open up key sectors like retail and agriculture, which hold a huge potential for American companies, Obama said: “Here in India, I know many still see, perceive the arrival of American companies and products as threats to small shop keepers and to India’s ancient and proud culture.”

“But these old stereotypes, these old concerns ignore today’s reality. In 2010, trade between our countries is not just a one-way street of American jobs and companies moving to India,” said Obama.

The president, who Thursday portrayed his trip as primarily economic, said ties with India constituted a “defining and indispensable” partnership of this century and asked businesses from the two countries to look at each other as partners and not threats.

“It is a dynamic two-way relationship which is creating jobs, growth and higher living standards in both our countries and that is the truth.”