Washington, DC – The U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) this week hosted a luncheon discussion with Indian Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways & Shipping Nitin Gadkari. The roundtable was attended by senior executives of U.S. and Indian companies that included TransAsia Infrastructure, Uber, Bentley Systems, Tata, Caterpillar, Moody’s, DLZ Corporation and Texas Instruments.

Washington, DC, USA - July 11, 2016: The U.S.-India Business Council hosts Minister of Road Transport and Highways & Shipping Nitin Gadkari . Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce
July 11, 2016: The U.S.-India Business Council hosts Minister of Road Transport and Highways & Shipping Nitin Gadkari . Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The discussion was focused around Minister Gadkari’s plans and vision to strengthen India’s infrastructure, investment opportunities in road construction and port-led industrialization, and how U.S. industry can collaborate with the Government of India.

Speaking to investors, Minister Gadkari said, “Prime Minister Modi has made the country’s infrastructure development the top-most priority of the government. We are committed to improving the country’s road, highways, and port connectivity in a time-bound, result oriented, corruption-free and transparent manner that includes e-governance and fast-tracking decision-making. The pace of road construction has accelerated to an all-time high of 20 kilometers per day and next year we plan to increase it to 41 km per day. This is a golden opportunity to invest in India.”

The Minister also spoke on the new highways under construction in the country, financing mechanisms under PPP models, framing policies for logistics parks, modernization of roads, building intelligent traffic systems for road safety and further innovation and technology to India’s logistics sector Minister Gadkari’s team also outlined the progress that has already been made in the roads, highways, and shipping sectors.

Rohit Kumar Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, highlighted specific investment opportunities in the highways sector; whereas Alok Srivastava, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, shared details on the Sagarmala Program – the Ministry’s flagship port-led development initiative to bring down logistics cost and boost investment, exports, and jobs.

USIBC President Dr. Mukesh Aghi said, “With an upsurge in India’s e-commerce markets and the unprecedented growth in Indian cities, there is a critical need for advanced logistical services and better transportation infrastructure. India needs $1 trillion for developing new roads, ports, rail lines, and airports over the next few years and U.S. companies can provide the necessary expertise as well as capital to enable the robust growth of this sector. We are excited to witness the rapid growth of this sector— under Minister Gadkari’s leadership, road construction rates have gone up, infrastructure spending has received a boost and India has jumped ranks in the Logisitics Performance Index. It is timely and urgent to explore the full potential of U.S.-India collaboration in this sector.”

Dr. Ravindra Verma, Managing Director of TransAsia Infrastructure Group, a confederation that manages and executes multi-modal integrated transport and logistics infrastructure in Asia provided an industry perspective during the discussion.

Dr. Verma said, “Under Minister Gadkari’s leadership, the Indian highways sector is now at a critical turning point. More than $100 billion in capital is now needed over the next several years to expand existing corridors and build new ones to keep up with the growth in traffic. This presents an opportunity for all players in North America to mobilize resources on a major scale. We are now actively gathering over $1 billion in global capital towards a dedicated multi-modal surface transport platform RoadStar, with major focus on India.”