Several US CEOs committed to invest in India: Aghi

Several US CEOs committed to invest in India: Aghi

 Several CEOs of top American companies who met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi committed to invest a "very large" amount" in India, one of the participants of the meeting has said.

"Some did step up and say they have plans to invest more. I'm not at liberty of telling those numbers, but I think I would say almost half a dozen of them made a very large dollar number commitment also as they move forward," Mukesh Aghi, the president of the US India Business Council (USIBC) said.

Aghi joined the top 20 American CEOs for a roundtable with the prime minister yesterday. The meeting lasted for about 90 minutes. Aghi refused to reveal any further details of the close-door meeting.

Responding to a question, Aghi described the roundtable as "good meeting, positive meeting focused on win-win between India and the US".

Both the CEOs and the prime minister were looking forward to building this relationship, he said, adding that Modi responded to every question raised by the CEOs.
"So I think it was a good meeting," he said.

"(He was) definitely focused a lot on technology transfer. India is not just about investment, it's about being good to the rest of the world itself. So I think, I would say I walked away with a very very positive feeling," he said.

In addition to having discussion on defence, digitisation and healthcare, some of the CEOs also raised the issue of ease of doing business and trade barriers.

"But overall, I would say it was very very positive, saying that India's a fantastic opportunity. I would like to see this moment in going on," he said.

Aghi said that there is no clash between Modi's 'Make in India' and Donald Trump's 'America First'.

"I think there's no clash there....Make in India is focused on trying to create jobs there, whereas Trump's policy of making America great again is creating jobs here," he said.

Citing an example, Aghi said India if decides to go with either F16 and Lockheed starts making the fighter jets in India, components will still come from the US.

"So, there's job creation in the US and job creation in India too," he noted.
Aghi said during the roundtable, the hospitality industry raised the issue of 28 per cent tax on hotel rates or chocolates under the new Goods Services Tax structure.

"Those were brought up and he said we'll look into that and try to see how we can address that," said the USIBC president.

The issue of H-1B visas did not come up, so did the issues of intellectual property rights and price caps on stents, he said.

"I think the issue of price cap did not come up, but he did talk about looking at Johnson & Johnson, saying let's put a campaign together, especially for school or for girls, sanitary napkins as a joint partnership itself," Aghi said.

According to Aghi, Modi appeared to be very confident ahead of his first meeting with Trump.

"I think he feels very comfortable meeting with President Trump. He said that his last two conversations with the president were very positive and he's looking forward to building this relationship with the president when he sees him," he said.

"We are looking at a long 10-year term (for) Prime Minister. They're looking at a long-term investment coming through. So, I think the local populist agenda never did come up and I think the CEOs are still keen on India as a market,” he said.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in an tweet said that he would continue to invest in India.

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