Barack Obama, US president, will portray his state visit next week to India as a big net producer of jobs for the American economy, with several US companies expected to seal deals worth billions of dollars, say senior officials.
Aware that some may misinterpret his trip as a deliberate break from America’s dissonant political scene, senior White House officials say Mr Obama will maintain a strong economic focus during his visit.
“It is no accident that the first day of the trip will be devoted entirely to US-India economic ties,” says a senior administration official. “We want to highlight growing US exports to India but also growing inward Indian investment into the US.” India is the second-fastest growing inward investor to America.
Almost 250 US chief executives and senior corporate officials will travel to Mumbai for a business summit that Mr Obama will address next Saturday. It is the largest contingent of US chief executives to accompany a president on a state visit.
Deals that are expected to be signed before, during or just after Mr Obama’s trip, include a $5.8bn sale by Boeing of C17 aircraft to the Indian government .
In addition, either General Electric or Caterpillar is expected to win a $5bn order to supply locomotives to Indian Railways. Cummins and John Deere also have deals lined up.
According to Ron Somers, of the US India Business Council, the total number of deals could help create or sustain 100,000 US jobs based on the US government’s formula of 11,000 jobs for every $1bn worth of deals.
US businesses are eager to put commercial meat on a relationship unlocked by the US-India civil nuclear deal in 2008, under the presidency of George W. Bush. “We need to see some things that are going to demonstrate that this relationship has pay-offs,” said a US embassy official in New Delhi.
Liberalisation of India’s restricted retail environment has been highlighted ahead of the visit. A closer defence relationship has also been identified. But obstacles remain. The US has struggled to agree an investment treaty with India and US companies are wary of intellectual property abuses.
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