Crowley opened with praise of Jaishankar’s tenure thus far in his new capacity and with congratulations to the people of India on the upcoming elections. “815 million people partaking in this great democratic experiment is a marvel to behold. People from all walks of life have a chance to shape the direction of India and we wish India well in this process,” he said.
All Congressmen who spoke acknowledged that there are challenges within the partnership but affirmed that with any relationship, there are natural ups and downs and that communication is key to working out differences. Jaishankar agreed stating that while things have been difficult in recently, he is optimistic about the future of the partnership. He pointed out that trade investments have grown three times since 2005.
The panel discussion featured Madhu Vuppuluri, CEO, Essar Americas; Steve Biegun, Vice President, International Government Affairs, Ford Motor Company; Mani Iyer, President, Mahindra USA; Clifford Samuel, Vice President, Gilead; Pradeep Tyle, CEO, Flex Films (USA) Inc.; and Deb Waggoner, Director Global Government Affairs, Corning. Each of the panelists outlined the success story of their company and how it embodies the potential that exists within the partnership.
Essar has major investments in mining in Minnesota and is prepared for that investment to go above $3 billion if state permits come through. Ford Motor Company is in the midst of building its second car manufacturing plant in Gujarat, slated to come online next year. Mahindra recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of their U.S. operations. With investments in California, Georgia, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas, they have created 3000 jobs in the US. They also have very successful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in universities and local communities. Gilead has collaborations with 15 drug manufacturers in India with licenses to provide Gilead medicines in resource-constrained countries. Flex Films (USA) has operations in Kentucky to manufacture flexible packaging and Tyle appreciated the effective streamlining of the permitting processes from the state government. Corning just opened an optical fiber facility in Maharashtra in record time. Waggoner cites clear and thorough communication as one of the key reasons the build was so successful. She also stressed the importance of infrastructure noting that, “world class infrastructure will bring world class manufacturing.”
Sharma echoed that the upward trajectory of two-way trade is undeniable and pointed to the lesser told story of Indian investment into the US as an example of how the bilateral success has been fueled. The Tata Group, reflective of this success, is itself one of the largest and most diverse India -based investors in the US, employing 20,000 people in over 30 states in the U.S.