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US Businesses Explore Indian Opportunities


Indian and U.S. business leaders say the warming political ties between their two countries have set the stage for a stronger trade relationship.

A delegation of top American businessmen says India has begun rising on the radar screen of U.S. businesses. They say the trend was reinforced by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington in July, which sent a powerful signal to business leaders that all is well between United States and India, now seen as a key emerging economy.

Charles Kaye, the co-president of investment firm Warburg Pincus and chairman of the U.S.-India Business Council, led the delegation.

"The story in the U.S. these days sort of culminating around this visit is kind of an 'India arrives' tale," said Mr. Kaye. "And businesses across the spectrum are increasingly asking the India question, and wondering how they can participate in this emerging story."

For years, India's socialist-style, protected economy and the political distance between New Delhi and Washington kept businesses in the two countries far apart. But in the past decade India has begun liberalizing its economy, and in recent years the two countries have come politically closer.

U.S. business leaders say they see vast opportunities for collaboration in manufacturing and services. They say American companies also can play a key role in funding the development of infrastructure, seen as a glaring gap in India's efforts to become a major global economy.

However, U.S. executives are calling for a broadening and deepening of India's financial sector to ensure that investments flow easily into the country.

The head of the Confederation of Indian Industry, N. Srinivasan, says U.S. and Indian businesses are exploring a wide range of opportunities.

"The canvas is large, the opportunities are aplenty. We are going to try and bring businesses, companies together in six or seven key areas - energy, agriculture and particularly the value added part of agriculture, food processing … infrastructure, health, education, media and entertainment," he described.

The United States is India's largest trading partner. Last year bilateral trade topped $20 billion - up by 50 percent since 2001.

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