Businesses betting big on new US Ambassador to India

Oct 11, 2017 0

By Aroonim Bhuyan

New Delhi– With Kenneth Juster being named as the new US Ambassador to India, US businesses are expecting that bilateral commercial ties will grow with him in that position, according to a senior office-bearer of a US-India business body.

“We are very optimistic, we are grateful that he accepted the job. It’s maybe the position that business has with his appointment because he understands business,” Edward Monser, Vice-President of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), told IANS in an interview here.

“We have worked with him before. He has had relationships with all of us in the executive council of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum,” Monser, who is also the President and COO of Emerson Electric and is here for an energy forum, said.

“So, we know him well. We trust him. Most importantly, he doesn’t wait for things to become a problem. He is proactive, he reaches out to both sides. He makes sure people understand and he communicates very well.”

Juster succeeds Richard Verma, who left after Donald Trump was sworn in as US President in January this year.

Juster has served as the Deputy Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs under Trump and was also the Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security under former President George W. Bush.

Kenneth Juster

He is expected to take up office towards the end of this month or in the beginning of November.

Stating that most proactive ambassadors know, understand and promote business development as well as good diplomatic dialogue, Monser said that “India and the US will get along better if our commercial relationships are stronger”.

He is of the view that there is now an opportunity to balance trade between India and the US.

“The dialogue around how to balance it and where there are opportunities to balance the trade I think are productive,” he stated. “The new Ambassador will be able to help with that.”

Monser said that the areas of advanced agriculture, defence and and energy “are really good opportunities to close the gap”.

“By closing the trade gap I think you will see benefit more clearly on both sides.”

Combined India-US trade stands at $124 billion but Monser is of the view that “we can realise the potential and go to $500 billion”.

“We see a path there that could be shared and benefit India and benefit the US,” he said.

“I think that’s why our leaders get along so well because they can see it too. They can see the real opportunities. So, we want to stay focused on growing the trade between the two countries, growing the investments between the two countries and encouraging the investment both ways.”

On the role of the newly-formed USISPF, he said that that the “old structure” kept businesses from both sides from going to the new business models that are most important.

“So the best thing to do was to start all over again. Start anew, again with very experienced people, people that have solved problems in the US and India for some time,” Monser said.

He also appreciated new Indian initiatives like Digital India and Skill India.

“I think we will always have a challenge to make sure that we have the number of engineers and scientists we need,” Monser said.

“But that’s not the major issue. The bulk of the population, more than 50 per cent of the jobs are what I would call technical for which you don’t need an engineering degree but you have to have training and knowledge to work in a digital economy.” (IANS)

Read More

TCS to appeal against US court order on $420 million punitive damages

Oct 2, 2017 0

Mumbai–Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on Sunday said it would appeal against a US court order in a lawsuit filed by an American firm for damages on the alleged misuse of its trade documents.

“The company plans to defend its position before the trial judge, as it did not misuse or derive any benefit from the documents of Epic Systems Corporation (Epic),” said the IT major in a regulatory filing on the BSE.

In an appeal by TCS, the Western District Court of Wisconsin, however, reduced the compensatory and punitive damages to $420 million (Rs 3,055 crore) from $940 million (Rs 6,110 crore), awarded by its jury in April 2016.

Wisconsin-based privately-held healthcare software firm Epic had alleged that a TCS employee had illegally downloaded its documents, which amounts to breach of contract and an Intellectual Propriety (IP) infringement.

“The company has received legal advice to the effect that the order and the reduced damages awarded are not supported by evidence presented during the trial and an appeal can be made to a superior court to set aside the jury verdict,” said TCS in the filing.

The order will not have impact on the company’s financial results for the second quarter of 2017-18, to be declared on October 12, it said. (IANS)

Read More

US ships first lot of crude oil to India

Oct 2, 2017 0

New Delhi–The first shipment of US crude oil to India arrived at Paradip Port in Odisha, as part of the two million barrels contracted by India.

The shipment follows recent commitments to US oil purchases by Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Bharat Petroleum (BPCL), both of which have placed orders for over 2 million barrels from the US. US crude oil shipments to India have the potential to boost bilateral trade by up to $2 billion.

The shipment at Paradip was met by US Consul General to Hyderabad, Katherine Hadda; Joint Secretary for International Cooperation from the Ministry for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Sunjay Sudhir; and Joint Secretary, Americas Division, from the Ministry of External Affairs, Munu Mahawar, said a US Embassy press release.

This is one of the first shipments to India since the United States stopped oil exports in 1975.

MaryKay Carlson, Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in New Delhi said “This event marks a significant milestone in the growing partnership between the United States and India. The US and India are elevating our cooperation in the field of energy, including plans for cleaner fossil fuels, renewables, nuclear, and cutting edge storage and energy efficiency technologies. We look forward to working together on further sales of US crude and exploring opportunities to expand the role of natural gas in India.”

During their June 26 meeting in Washington, President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi committed to expanding and elevating bilateral energy cooperation through a Strategic Energy Partnership. The leaders called for a rational approach that balances environment and climate policy, global economic development, and energy security needs.(IANS)

Read More

US-based Copart opens India Technology Center in Hyderabad

Aug 8, 2017 0

Hyderabad–Copart, a US-based global leader in online vehicle auctions. on Tuesday launched its India Technology Centre here

The facility was inaugurated by US Consul General in Hyderabad, Katherine Hadda in the presence of state IT Secretary Jayesh Ranjan and the company’s top management.

Copart Inc Executive Vice President Will Franklin said that the company has nearly 200 yards globally including one each in Delhi and Hyderabad. “We’re aiming at setting up around 50 yards in India gradually,” he said.

Will Franklin

Copart India Technology Centre Director Abdul Khuddus said Athat nearly $2 million have been invested in Indian facility. “Hyderabad provides great opportunity to companies like Copart. The technology support, which is the backbone of the company’s unique system, will be developed and improvised at this facility,” he added.

The company sells nearly 2 million dead cars every year, and aims to double the numbers.

Copart has presence in 190 locations across 11 countries with a Rs 45,000 crore market cap. The company also processes used cars, cars dumped by owners or seized by insurance companies, mostly End of Life Vehicles (ELVs).

Nearly 1600 vehicles that were damaged in Chennai floods were acquired by Copart and sold online to bidders. During the Katrina floods in the US, two lakh ELVs were auctioned online.

Describing Hyderabad as a prime destination for tech companies, US Consul General Hadda said nearly 130 US companies having set up their facilities in the city.

“A company like this (Copart) recognizes the world is getting flatter, and is selling cars as far as in Afghanistan among other locations, which is incredible. It speaks of the power of technology, which is very transformative to our lives,” she said.

Ranjan said it was the small and medium companies like Copart that actually provide numbers for Hyderabad to grow, in addition to tech giants like Google, Amazon and Microsoft.

He hailed the company’s plan to hire 120 people by the end of 2017, and double the number by next year. (IANS)

Read More

US-India partnership can shape up India’s digital economy

Aug 2, 2017 0

New Delhi– The new US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) that was announced on Wednesday can shape up the Indian digital payment and economy sector and help the GDP grow, a top government official said here.

“India’s digital economy stands at 15 per cent and it has the potential to increase the GDP growth of the country more than others. This strategic partnership will be a game changer in this sector,” Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary Department of Telecommunications, told reporters here.

“It will also have a great impact on digital payment because we work with a lot of US companies in this area,” she added.

Aruna Sundararajan

Sundararajan said the government was laying 500,000 kilometres of optic fibre to connect rural areas to the Internet and half of it has already been completed.

She added that it will become operational by the end of this year.

The Secretary pointed out that the new US-India partnership can play a part in this area too in order to bring more Indian villages within the networking zones.

She added that the digital partnership demonstrates synergies between the US and India for what it has accomplished.

“We have seen seamless integration in silicon valley between the US technology companies and India,” Sundararajan said.

Cyber Security Coordinator at Prime Minister’s Office Gulshan Rai said as part of the sound and strategic partnership, both the countries need to work on security as the cyber attacks can happen in either of the countries.

“Digital transactions is growing tremendously in India and it’s expected to double by the end of this year. As such the issue of cyber security becomes paramount. So this strategic operation is going to play an important role here,” Rai said.

To deepen business ties between India and the US, the USISPF was set up on Wednesday.

According to the Executive Chairman of Cisco John Chambers, the USISPF would help build stronger and meaningful business relations between the two countries.

“What you see now is a potential of strategic partnership between two countries to be the model for the rest of the world,” the Cisco Executive Chairman said.

“It’s mission is to see how to get economic growth, startup growth, and get innovation, entrepreneurism and benefit society,” he added.

Chambers termed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative as a model for the rest of the world, and said the initiative is a comprehensive framework.

“Digital India initiative has the ability to be inclusive in terms of how education, smart cities and health sector will change,” Chambers said.

USISPF will work closely with businesses and government leaders to achieve the goal of driving economic growth, job creation, innovation, inclusion and entrepreneurship.

Chambers said Modi’s meeting with US President Donald Trump in June was successful.

“I am a huge believer in your country and your Prime Minister. India has grown faster than any other country in the last three years and is now known as one of the leading innovators,” Chambers said.

“Our two countries will be able to make great strides in the months to come and USISPF is honoured to be a part of this exciting future,” he added. (IANS)

Read More

IABC launches India national chapter

Jul 22, 2017 0

New Delhi– The Indian American Business Council (IABC) on Saturday launched its India-based “national chapter” to provide a platform for micro, small, and medium sized enterprises to expand their businesses.

The non-profit organisation headquartered in Chicago said that it intends to facilitate interaction and co-operation between MSMEs from both the countries.

According to IABC, under its aegis three investment deals — MoUs (memorandum of understandings) — totalling over $35 million are currently under way.

“IABC has been working with industries that include healthcare, manufacturing, energy and infrastructure products and services to provide them with access to collaborations, technical know-how and investors relations,” it said in a statement.

Besides the national chapter, the council said that it has formed three state chapters in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana.

In addition, IABC informed that it is engaged in socio-economic activities like development of 100 “smart villages”. (IANS)

Read More

US IT firm ATCS expands, hires in India

Jul 11, 2017 0

New Delhi–At a time when layoffs in the IT industry are dominating headlines, US-based IT solutions company Advanced Technology Consulting Service (ATCS) has announced it is expanding its operations in India by recruiting new staff and setting up its first Innovation Lab (I-Lab) in Jaipur.

Apart from Jaipur, ATCS has also opened a new office in Bengaluru.

“The I-Lab not only serves as a functional space for approaching ideas and concepts in an alternative setting but also embeds a spirit in our team that ATCS is expected to think differently, creating solutions beyond one’s peripheral views,” said Jason Castellani, partner at ATCS, in a statement on Tuesday.

Jason Castellani

New Jersey-based ATCS also has offices in China, Germany and Canada. It provides strategic guidance to and implements software solutions for several Fortune 500 companies.

“As an agile, innovative company, we give immense importance to solution creation for our customers. Now we have developed a space for our staff, which can stimulate creative thinking among them,” said Manish Krishnan, Global CEO, ATCS.

According to the company, the I-Lab would soon put Jaipur at par with IT hubs of the country and serve as a functional space for approaching ideas and concepts in an alternative setting.

“For our customers, innovation is a big drive. Having such a lab in our India office helps us in delivering more inventive ideas to our clients,” Krishnan added.

Read More

India, US to review trade relations to increase market access

Jun 27, 2017 0

Washington– The United States and India plan to undertake a comprehensive review of trade relations to expedite regulatory processes and increase market access in areas such as agriculture, information technology, and manufactured goods and services, according to a joint statement.

The joint statement issued after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump said that the two leaders committed that the US and India should intensify their economic cooperation to make their nations stronger and their citizens more prosperous.

The two leaders noted that extensive economic and tax reforms launched in their respective countries will unlock immense economic opportunities for both countries.

They expressed commitment to further expand and balance the trade relationship and remove obstacles to growth and jobs creation.

They also resolved to pursue increased commercial engagement in a manner that advances the principles of free and fair trade.

“To this end, the United States and India plan to undertake a comprehensive review of trade relations with the goal of expediting regulatory processes; ensuring that technology and innovation are appropriately fostered, valued, and protected; and increasing market access in areas such as agriculture, information technology, and manufactured goods and services,” the statement said.

Trump and Modi expressed commitment to strengthening cooperation to address excess capacity in industrial sectors and called on their teams to find creative ways to improve bilateral trade.

The leaders affirmed the continued importance of their Strategic Energy Partnership and of leveraging new opportunities to elevate cooperation to enhance global energy security.

The leaders called for a rational approach that balances environment and climate policy, global economic development, and energy security needs.

Trump affirmed that the United States continues to remove barriers to energy development and investment in the United States and to US energy exports so that more natural gas, clean coal, and renewable resources and technologies are available to fuel India’s economic growth.

“Prime Minister Modi and President Trump looked forward to conclusion of contractual agreements between Westinghouse Electric Company and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India for six nuclear reactors in India and also related project financing,” the statement said.

Both leaders welcomed efforts towards expanding energy and innovation linkages across the energy sector and deepen cooperation, including on more efficient fossil fuel technologies, smart grids, and energy storage.

“They supported financing of energy projects, including clean coal projects, by Multilateral Development Banks to promote universal access to affordable and reliable energy,” it said.

The leaders also agreed to strengthen their cooperation to address the growing threats and challenges from malicious cyber activity.

Trump welcomed India’s formal entry into the International Expedited Traveler Initiative (Global Entry program) in order to facilitate closer business and educational ties between the citizens of India and the United States.

The statement said that Trump “gladly accepted” Modi’s invitation to visit India. (IANS)

Read More

Alliance for Fair Trade With India Urges Welcomes Congressional Call for Concrete Reforms to Improve India’s Business Environment

Jun 26, 2017 0

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Business leaders with the Alliance for Fair Trade with India (AFTI) applauded a letter from congressional trade leaders to President Donald Trump in advance of today’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In the letter, leaders of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees urged President Trump to press for the elimination of trade and investment barriers in India that harm American businesses and workers.

The letter, signed by the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Finance Committee (Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR)) and House Ways & Means Committee (Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Richard Neal (D-MA)), notes: “While Indian businesses continue to benefit from open U.S. markets, India has failed to eliminate, or even address concretely, multiple trade and investment barriers that have been the focus of recent bilateral and multilateral fora. At the same, India has imposed several new significant barriers that have harmed U.S. producers across all sectors of our economy, including services, manufacturing, and agriculture.”

Orrin Hatch

“Manufacturers want an opportunity to invest in and help develop India’s growing economy, but there are still significant tariff and trade barriers that are hampering manufacturers ability to do business in India,” said Linda Dempsey, Vice President for International Economic Affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers. “While increased high-level dialogues between Prime Minister Modi and President Trump and other government agencies are welcome, they must result in concrete reforms that resolve roadblocks fully in order to achieve real market access gains.”

The letter cites “high tariffs, inadequate protection of intellectual property rights, [and] inconsistent and nontransparent licensing and regulatory practices” in India as having a direct negative impact on American workers, businesses, and farmers and a major cause for the slow growth in bilateral U.S-India trade.

“From the halls of Congress to the Trump administration, U.S. leaders have placed an emphasis on ensuring American innovation is respected abroad,” said Patrick Kilbride, Vice President of International Intellectual Property for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC). “In India, that includes strengthening IP standards to address issues with patentability, computer-related inventions, and copyright infringement. Prime Minister Modi’s visit presents an opportunity to revisit these issues and renew India’s commitment to policies that will benefit both American and Indian innovators.”

Congressional leaders urged President Trump to work with Prime Minister Modi to eliminate barriers that hamper both countries’ global competitiveness and move forward on concrete improvements to our bilateral trade relationship.

Read More

Logic of Indo-US strategic ties unarguable, says Modi

Jun 26, 2017 0

NEW YORK–Saying both India and the US are determined to defeat the “scourge” of terrorism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that “the logic of our strategic relationship is incontrovertible”.

Modi, ahead of his meeting with President Donald Trump, also said in comments published in The Wall Street Journal that he expected bilateral ties in the next few decades to be “an even more remarkable story of ambitious horizons, convergent action and shared growth”.

“The past two decades have been a productive journey of engagement for our mutual security and growth. I expect the next few decades to be an even more remarkable story of ambitious horizons, convergent action and shared growth.

Modi recalled how he told the US Congress in June 2016 that the bilateral relationship had overcome the “hesitations of history”. “A year later, I return to the US confident in the growing convergence between our two nations.

“This confidence stems from the strength of our shared values and the stability of our systems. Our people and institutions have steadfastly viewed democratic change as an instrument for renewal and resurgence.”

He said the two countries stand as mutually reinforcing engines of growth and innovation in an uncertain global economic landscape.

“Confidence in each other’s political values and a strong belief in each other’s prosperity has enabled our engagement to grow.”

Saying defence was another mutually beneficial sphere of their partnership, Modi said both India and the US had an overriding interest “in securing our societies, and the world, from the forces of terrorism, radical ideologies and non-traditional security threats.

“India has four decades’ experience in fighting terrorism, and we share the US administration’s determination to defeat this scourge.”

The two countries, he said, were working together to address the existing and emerging strategic and security challenges that affect them in Afghanistan, West Asia, the large maritime space of the Indo-Pacific and the new and unanticipated threats in cyberspace.

“We also share an interest in ensuring that sea lanes – critical lifelines of trade and energy – remain secure and open to all,” Modi said, without referring to the South China Sea by name.

Indo-US trade, which totals about $115 billion a year, was poised for a multi-fold increase, the Indian Prime Minister said.

“The transformation of India presents abundant commercial and investment opportunities for American businesses. The rollout of the Goods and Services Tax on July 1 will, in a single stroke, convert India into a unified, continent-sized market of 1.3 billion people.

“The planned 100 smart cities, the massive modernization of ports, airports and road and rail networks, and the construction of affordable housing for all by 2022 – the 75th anniversary of India’s independence – are not just promises of great urban renewal within India.

“These plans also showcase the enormous fruits of our relationships with enterprising US partners – worth many billions of dollars over the next decade alone – together with concomitant new employment opportunities across both societies.

“India’s rapidly expanding aviation needs, and our increasing demand for gas, nuclear, clean coal and renewables, are two significant areas of increasing convergence.

“In coming years, Indian companies will import energy in excess of $40 billion from the US, and more than 200 American-made aircraft will join the private Indian aviation fleet.”

Modi said the combination of technology, innovation and skilled workers had helped forge an exciting digital and scientific partnership between the two countries.

“The creative and entrepreneurial energy of our engineers, scientists and researchers, and their free movement between both countries, continue to help India and the US retain their innovation edge and maintain competitiveness in the knowledge economy.”

Modi underlined that whenever India and the US work together, the world reaps the benefits.

He also paid his tribute to the three-million-strong Indian-American community, “which represents the best of both our countries (and) has played a crucial role in connecting and contributing to our societies”. (IANS)

Read More