US Consulate must facilitate Indian investments: Hall

Kolkata
12 Jan 2017

Addressing the members of the MCC Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MCCI), Craig Hall, Consul General of the United States of America in Kolkata said that the strategic interest of the US Consulate was to facilitate Indian investments to US. The Consulate had also been interested in the overall development of the East and to integrate it to the rest of the country, so that this region could contribute towards investment.

The Chamber organized an Interactive Session on “Keys to Growing US – India Commerce & Trade” with Craig L. Hall and Jonathan T. Ward, Principal Commercial Officer, Consulate General of USA, Kolkata today.

In 2015, India was USA’s 11th largest trade partner having only 1.8 p.c. of total trade and 18th largest export market. Trade value increased from 19 billion USD in 2000 to 109 billion USD in 2015. Indo US trade had the potential of reaching 500 billion USD, but whether Indian economic condition was ready for that, he inquired. The transition from 109 bn to 500 bn would mean that economic landscape of India would have to be totally different, he added. He felt that Indo – US trade could flourish if frictions were taken care of and if India continued to liberalize its investment regime and to bring in land and labour reforms. Although India had been trying to improve on the Index of East of Doing Business, “it was still too hard to do business in India”, he pointed out.

He focused on policy changes being critical for investment linkages. He expressed satisfaction that a few US companies had been doing well in the East, including Cognizant taking 15 acres of land in Kolkata. He also mentioned about TGI, recently commissioned Marriott Hotel in the city.

The Consul General spoke about the robust education exchange between India and US. India being the 2nd largest group of immigration to US on educational grounds, there had been a 66 p.c. increase over student enrolment.

On H1B visas, he said that the debate regarding the issuance of such visas had been on and the number was yet to be decided by the US Government. “We need some foreign workers, how many to be found out, the number might go up or down”, he said.

Jonathan Ward mentioned that the major activity of US Department of Commerce was to get more investors from India to US. He requested the Chamber to identify Indian delegates to participate in various trade shows in US. The year 2017 had been made “Tourism Year” by both the Governments for promotion of bilateral tourism, he added.

Earlier, in his welcome address, Hemant Bangur, President MCCI spoke about the widespread apprehensions regarding the de-globalisation trend as also the problems to be faced by the outsourcing industry in the context of the proposed changes in issuance of H1B visa by USA. (EOIC)