Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General Suresh Kumar
U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service
Remarks at the USA-India Business Summit
Monday, May 10, 2010
As prepared for delivery
Thank you, Tom, for that very kind introduction. I also want to thank the Georgia Tech Center for International Business Education and Research, USA India Initiatives, and the U.S. India Business and Research Center for organizing this summit.
I am honored to be joined today by Governor Perdue, Ambassador Shankar, and so many distinguished business executives and state officials to share some thoughts about President Obama’s National Export Initiative, and in particular, the emphasis by this Administration on our economic and trade relationship with India.
I was born and raised in India, the son of a military officer and a musician, and paid my way through universities in Delhi and Bombay. My aspiration growing up was to run a company in India, and the thought never crossed my mind that one day I would serve in the Administration of the President of the United States. My presence here today demonstrates what is so unique and special about the American story, as well as this Administration, in which more Indian-Americans have received presidential appointments than ever before.
America has not only provided me with the privilege of serving the President, but it has also given much to my family. My son, Aditya, works for the Vice-President and the White House Chief of Staff, and my daughter, Pooja, is a successful physician and management consultation. We all owe a great deal for the opportunities we have received here, but my family also understands what it means to live in a globalized world.
After my economics and business education at Delhi and Bombay universities, I began a thirty year career in international business in India. From India, my family moved to Indonesia and Singapore, where I ran the businesses of major global companies. From Asia, I moved to North America to run Warner Lambert’s Canadian business. I came to the United States 16 years ago, eventually becoming the head of Worldwide Consumer Pharmaceuticals for Johnson and Johnson. As a result of these experiences, I am well aware of the challenges of global trade, but also the prosperity it brings.
President Obama deeply understands the importance of the U.S. relationship with India. In November 2009, President Obama hosted Prime Minister Singh at the White House for the first official visit of his Administration. During this visit, the President emphasized the importance of the U.S.-India relationship, describing it as “one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.” Specifically, the President and Prime Minister Singh agreed to “strengthen the economic recovery and expand trade and investment so we can create jobs for both our peoples – Americans and Indians.”
The United States is one of India’s largest trading and investment partners, and there is no doubt that India is, and will continue to be, a key trading partner for the United States. In 2008, the United States exported $17.7 billion in manufactured goods to India, making India the 17th largest export market for U.S. goods. And India’s potential has not been lost on companies in Georgia. From 2005 to 2009, while U.S. exports to India increased by 108%, during that same time period, exports from Georgia to India outpaced the national average and grew by 162%.
However, the reality remains that the United States exports more to Switzerland, Belgium, or Australia than it does to India. Given India’s $1.2 trillion economy, as well as its 1.2 billion consumers, representing approximately 18% of the world’s population, there remains tremendous room for growth. India is also bolstered by a very positive GDP growth rate, which was over 7% in 2008. I firmly believe that India’s vast domestic market and its fast growing middle class need America’s state-of-the-art technologies and high-quality products that can improve the lives and livelihoods of India’s people.
The changing global economy and the linkage between trade and job creation are exactly why President Obama created the National Export Initiative (NEI). The NEI is an unprecedented, comprehensive strategy aimed at doubling U.S. exports over five years, while creating millions of jobs, both at home and abroad. The NEI leverages the resources of all the departments and agencies of the U.S. Government that support trade to better assist American businesses that want to sell their goods and services abroad.
At a time when unemployment remains at unacceptably high levels, boosting U.S. exports has become a national imperative. With traditional drivers of U.S. economic growth like domestic consumer and business spending facing headwinds, it has never been more important for our companies to increase their sales to the 95% of the world’s consumers who live outside the United States.
In 2009, Georgia exported over $23 billion of merchandise, ranking it 12th among the 50 states in terms of export value. The vast majority of those exports came from the Atlanta metropolitan area. Georgia is also the home to almost 9,000 exporters, 86% of which are small and medium-sized companies. However, the most compelling figure is that approximately one out of every five manufacturing worker in Georgia depends on exports for their jobs, which is why the NEI is such an important tool for creating jobs in states like Georgia.
The NEI focuses on impacting three critical areas of international trade: trade promotion and advocacy; availability of credit and financing; and free and fair access to foreign markets. While the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service touches on all of these elements, my team is primarily responsible for strengthening the competitiveness of U.S. industry by promoting U.S. exports, and providing commercial diplomacy and advocacy support for U.S. business interests around the world.
As Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General, I lead a team of over 1,500 trade professionals in 109 domestic U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEACs) and in 126 commercial offices located in our embassies and consulates in almost 80 countries. Our offices serve as one-stop shops for U.S. exporters, and they provide a comprehensive toolkit of services – from market research to trade counseling and from business matchmaking to trade advocacy.
We have more offices in India than in any other country in the world. Our seven offices in India include 55 trade professionals spread across New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai. In fiscal year 2009 alone, our India team supported $3 billion in U.S. exports.
Additionally, you may already know our team here in Atlanta, including our Southern Network Director Tom Strauss and our Atlanta Export Assistance Center Director George Tracy, but if you do not, please reach out to them today. You can also find out more information by calling our Trade Information Center at 1-800-USA-TRADE, or by visiting us on the web at www.export.gov.
One of the most important trade promotion tools of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service is our trade missions, which help U.S. companies learn first-hand about global markets. Trade missions provide opportunities for U.S. companies to attend market briefings, participate in networking receptions, and have one-on-one business matchmaking appointments with pre-screened buyers and distributors. Trade missions offer access, clout and the prestige of being part of a U.S. government trade delegation, and they attract the attention of government officials, business leaders, and media in international markets.
The NEI will raise the profile of the 40 trade missions that the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service is organizing this year, by ensuring that many of them are led by top officials at the Department of Commerce and our partner agencies. U.S. business interest in India has been palpable. Over the last several months, we have already executed four successful trade missions to India, including three in the renewable energy or energy efficiency sectors.
There is no doubt that these energy sectors will continue to be a centerpiece of the U.S.-India trade relationship. Our team continues to actively pursue new opportunities for U.S. suppliers in the areas of civil-nuclear power and renewable energies. This is particularly important in light of India’s plans to invest over $100 billion in the civil nuclear sector by 2030, as well as India’s National Solar Plan, which will install 20,000 megawatts of solar power by 2020. In fact, this October, I am planning to participate in the International Renewable Energy Conference, otherwise known as DIREC 2010, in New Delhi, where the U.S. will be hosting the largest pavilion at the show.
The bottom line is that by continuing to strengthen the U.S.-India trade relationship, not only in the energy sector, but in other key sectors such as infrastructure, transportation, and health care, we can stimulate job growth in both the United States and India.
America’s strength has always been our ability to create and sell products and services that help others around the world improve lives and livelihoods. The NEI will contribute to building a stronger economic foundation – both for American and for India – by raising the level of attention on building our trade relationship and by dedicating more U.S. resources to connecting U.S. exporters with foreign buyers and distributers.
Simply put – through the National Export Initiative, American businesses that want to export to India are going to have a more vigorous partner in the U.S. Government.
Thank you for having me with you today.
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