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On the Learning Curve: How U.S. Businesses Are Preparing for Doing Business in India

Seminars, Webinars, and a trade mission are some of the tools that the Department of Commerce is using to help U.S. businesses learn about—and exploit—export opportunities in India.

by Cory Churches

With the revitalization of the U.S.–India Commercial Dialogue in mid-2005 and President George W. Bush’s state visit to India in March 2006 (see the April 2006 issue of International Trade Update), there has been an increased demand for information about the Indian market and how best to approach it. The Department of Commerce through its trade promotion unit, the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, has responded with a variety of information tools for U.S. businesses in need of market intelligence.

Seminars at the Local Level

One of the outcomes of the dialogue was the development of a series of business seminars about the Indian market. The seminars are coordinated by local U.S. Export Assistance Centers with the cooperation of state and local government agencies. They typically begin with a broad overview of doing business in India and delve into greater detail on topics such as key industry sectors, best prospects for U.S. businesses, opportunities and challenges to market entry, and major obstacles of doing business in India. Attendees are also introduced to a network of support that is available to them as they explore the Indian market.

Seminars have already been held in Los Angeles, California; Austin, Texas; and Atlanta, Georgia. Upcoming seminars are scheduled in Denver, Colorado (September 11); White Plains, New York (September 13); Cincinnati, Ohio (September 14); and Fort Lauderdale, Florida (September 19).

At-Your-Desk Convenience with Webinars

Another information tool for learning about India is the online “Webinar.” This Web-based seminar allows individuals from all parts of the country to participate from their desktop computers. The India Webinars have been developed by the Commercial Service and typically attract 100 to 175 participants. Each one features participation by a U.S.–based international trade specialist and one or two U.S. commercial officers located in India.

By the end of August 2006, four Webinars about India had been held. Each focused on a single regional market: Bangalore (July 17), Chennai (July 31), Hyderabad (August 17), and Mumbai (August 31). An additional Webinar is scheduled to take place on September 20, with a focus on New Delhi. For businesses unable to participate, the Webinars are archived on the Internet for viewing on demand (to access the Webinars, see “For More Information”).

Multi-City Business Development Mission

In November 2006, U.S. companies will have the chance to make in-person contacts in India by joining the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Business Development Mission to India. Under Secretary for International Trade Franklin L. Lavin will lead the mission. It will begin in Mumbai with a two-day business summit on November 29 and 30. After the summit, participants will have an opportunity to attend spin-off events in six Indian cities on December 4 and 5. The cities include Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, and New Delhi. Attendees participating in one of the six spin-off missions may also request one day of business appointments in Mumbai on December 1.

Best Prospects in India

Leading sectors for US. exports to India in 2005 Value ($US in millions )
Education services $1,703
Computers and peripherals $900
Telecommunications equipment $550
Pollution control equipment $508
Electric power generation equipment $370
Oil and gas field machinery $350
Mining equipment $330
Medical equipment $237
Machine tools $96
Safety and security equipment $70

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

Cory Churches is a senior editor in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs. Abdul Shaikh, a senior international economist in the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, contributed to this report.


For More Information
  Government Resources. To find out if a U.S.–India event is scheduled for your area, contact your local Export Assistance Center. To find out more information about, or to register for, the Department of Commerce’s India Business Development Mission, visit Many of the Webinars mentioned in this article are archived on the Web. These virtual events provide information similar to those presented in the live seminars, but are accessible at any time.
  Nongovernment India Business Resources.