The 28th Annual General Meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in India was held virtually on August 6th and 7th. The theme of the event was ‘The New Global Economic Order Post COVID.’ The two-day virtual conference covered 10 sectors as well as interactions with 8 state governments. The deliberations brought together policy-makers, U.S. Embassy officials and members to focus on the way ahead post COVID.
Sector Specific Sessions
- Enhancing Defense Production in India and Supporting Make in India in Partnership with Indian Defence Industry
- Food Security: A Step Towards Self Reliant India
- Positioning India in the Global Supply Chain – Ease of Doing Business
- IT: The Critical Driver in India’s Growth Trajectory
- Healthcare Scenario in India
- Infrastructure and Logistics
- The Future of Reskilling Post COVID-19
- Electronics Manufacturing
- Energy: Digital Transformation of Oil & Gas
- Cyber Security
State Partnership Sessions
- West Bengal
- Tamil Nadu
- Uttar Pradesh
The sessions were addressed by 120 speakers – U.S. government officials, Indian political leaders and officials of the Indian government (both central and states) besides industry leaders. The event included special addresses by:
- Ambassador Kenneth I. Juster , Ambassador to India, Honorary President, AMCHAM
- Mark W. Menezes, Deputy Secretary of Energy, U.S. Department of Energy
- Edgard D. Kagan, Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy
- Joel Reifman, Consul General, U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad
- Patricia Hoffman, Consul General, U.S. Consulate General Kolkata
- Jennifer Larson, Acting Consul General, U.S. Consulate General Mumbai
- Aileen Nandi, Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs, U.S. Embassy
- Jeanne F. Bailey, Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Embassy
- Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India
- Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Electronics & Information Technology and Law & Justice, Government of India
- Anurag Singh Thakur, Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Government of India
- N. Ashwathnarayan, Deputy Chief Minister, Government of Karnataka
- Subhash Desai, Minister for Industries, Mining, Marathi Language, Government of Maharashtra
- Amit Mitra, Minister of Finance, Industry Commerce & Enterprises, Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises & Textiles, Information Technology and Electronics and Public Enterprises and Industrial Reconstruction Departments, Government of West Bengal
- T. Rama Rao, Minister for Industries & Commerce/IT/Textiles/MAUD, Government of Telangana
- Sidharth Nath Singh, Cabinet Minister, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Investment & Export, NRI, Sericulture Textile & Handloom, Khadi & Gramodyog, Government of Uttar Pradesh
- Vijay Inder Singla, Minister of Public Works Department and Information Technology, Government of Punjab
570 participants registered for the event. The event commenced with the message from the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi.
During the Statutory AGM on August 6th, 2020, the composition of the National Executive Board 2020-21 was announced and in the first meeting of the National Executive Board on August 7th, following were elected as office bearers for 2020-21:
Mr. Salil Anil Gupte, President, Boeing India Pvt. Ltd.
Ms. Kaku Nakhate, President & Country Head (India), Bank of America N.A.
Mr. Sanjay Koul, Chairman & Managing Director, Timken India Limited
Honorary Secretary & Treasurer:
Mr. Atul Dhawan, Partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP
The current scenario offered an opportunity of engaging members pan India. Deliberations covered policies at the central level as well as in the states they operate.
August 6th, 2020
Ms. Ranjana Khanna, Director General CEO, AMCHAM India, welcomed delegates and broadly enumerated the achievements of AMCHAM India over the past year. Ms. Kaku Nakhate, Vice Chair, AMCHAM and President & Country Head (India), Bank of America N.A. addressed delegates and welcomed Ambassador Kenneth I. Juster, U.S. Ambassador to India and Honorary President, AMCHAM. Ms Nakhate read out the message of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to AMCHAM India on the occasion of the 28th AGM. She highlighted the reasons for which India was quickly emerging as foreign investors’ preferred choice. Ms Ranjana Khanna introduced the Ambassador and highlighted his contributions over the years as an important architect of the current strengths of the U.S.-India economic and strategic partnership.
Ambassador Juster, in a conversation with Mr. Salil Gupte, Member – National Executive Board, AMCHAM and President Boeing India, spoke about the U.S.-India relationship which has seen several areas of progression over the past few years across the board and referred to the military partnerships, 2+2 dialogues, multi service exercises, strategic energy partnerships as well as health and other areas. He mentioned that the U.S.-India partnership was now a comprehensive global strategic partnership which has been highlighted in the meetings between Prime Minister Modi and President Trump. He referred to the fact that while economic partnership and trade volumes between India and the U.S. have increased manifold, there was much that can still be achieved. The Ambassador also spoke extensively on the U.S.-India cooperation during the current pandemic.
A video message from Mr. Mark Menzes, Deputy Secretary of Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, on the occasion of AMCHAM India’s 28th AGM was played and AMCHAM’s CSR Photo Exhibition 2020 was released as a video, which highlighted work done by U.S. companies over the year. The session closed with a vote of thanks from Mr. Sanjay Koul, Vice Chair, AMCHAM and Chairman & Managing Director Timken India Limited.
Food Security: A Step Towards Self Reliant India
The keynote address was given by Mr. Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary, Department of Food & Public Distribution, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Government of India. Mr. Pandey gave a detailed presentation which covered an overview of food security, historical perspective of food security, India’s efforts to achieve food security, evolution of PDS, implementation of National Food Security Act-Key provisions, production and procurement trends of food grains, stocking norms and business opportunities, contract farming, conventional storage to silos and fortification of food grains.
Ms. Reema Prakash, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India in her special address spoke about how MoFPI is aiding food security by management of production and prevention of food wastage. She mentioned that India was self-reliant in production of staples like rice and wheat but still was nutritional deficient. She highlighted the need for high levels of food processing to combat this issue. Food processing helps in crop diversification, increases export earnings and reduces wastage. Presently, India has high production levels but low processing levels, hence tremendous opportunities exist for investors. Some of the sub sectors with good business opportunities include the ready to eat segment, frozen foods, super foods, nutraceuticals, value added dairy products, animal feed, machinery, energy efficient technology, etc. She also touched upon the PDC (Project Development Cell) which has been constituted by MoFPI to facilitate investments.
Ms. Jeanne F. Bailey, Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs, U. S. Embassy, in her special remarks congratulated the Indian government for ensuring food supply during the COVID pandemic and also for the recent agricultural reforms that will help Indian famers to be more competitive and earn more income and would also benefit the end consumer. She spoke about affordability as an important factor in being self-reliant. She mentioned scale and comparative advantage as the twin engines of growth.
AMCHAM, in collaboration with YES Bank Ltd., prepared and released a knowledge report on ‘Food Security: A Step Towards Self Reliant India.’ The report aimed to understand how food security was critical for the country’s growth in more ways than one. The report also highlighted the contribution of American agri and food processing companies.
It was followed by an industry panel discussion with Mr. Simon George, Chairman – Agriculture & Food Processing Committee, AMCHAM & President, Cargill India, Mr. Ishteyaque Amjad, Vice President-Public Affairs & Communications, India & SW Asia, Coca-Cola India Pvt. Ltd, Mr. Ashok P. Joshi, Vice President, Cold Chain, Asia, Middle East and Africa, Emerson and was moderated by Mr. Nitin Puri, Global Head, Food & Agribusiness Strategic Advisory & Research (FASAR), Yes Bank Ltd. The discussion focused on supply chain disruptions, Atmanirbhar Bharat, India’s performance in global trade, competitiveness, sustainability, cold chain logistics, food quality and food safety.
Positioning India in the Global Supply Chain – Ease of Doing Business
Mr. Anurag Singh Thakur, Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Government of India made the keynote address. On behalf of industry, discussions were held with the Minister by Mr. C. R. Dua, Chairman, Dua Associates and Mr. Arun M. Kumar, Chairman and CEO, KPMG in India. The Hon’ble Minister shared India’s recent growth story and listed the steps the Government has taken coupled with the reforms for ease of doing business which have enhanced the confidence of investors. Highlighting the fact that the Ministry has been working assiduously to enhance ease of doing business with continuous reforms, he also brought out that decriminalizing certain offences under the Companies Act, 2013 would be a great step forward in this direction. AMCHAM’s submission on the subject has since been made to the Hon’ble Minister.
IT: The Critical Driver in India’s Growth Trajectory
In this session Mr. Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, gave his keynote address. The current unprecedented crisis has demonstrated the importance of digital readiness, allowing people’s life to continue during the pandemic and businesses to start working in the neo-normal. Technology is the critical driver in the new scenario. The technological transformation with innovative business models would accelerate the digital transformation in unchartered sectors. The IT hardware industry plays a big role in providing products and solutions to aid the Indian growth story. It has the potential to leapfrog India to the next generation of technology adoption and holds immense transformational potential for various industry verticals.
The session was moderated by Mr. Som Satsangi, Chairman – ICT Committee, AMCHAM and Managing Director, Hewlett Packard Enterprises. A discussion on the topic was deliberated by industry stalwarts Mr. Karan Bajwa, Managing Director, Google Cloud, Mr. Prakash Mallya, Managing Director, Intel Technologies, Mr. Sandip Patel Managing Director, India and South Asia, IBM Technologies, Mr. Rajnish Gupta, Co-Chair – Cyber Security Committee, AMCHAM0 and Regional Director, India and SAARC, RSA Technologies and Mr. Ketan Likhate, Executive Director, Emerson Innovation Centre.
Healthcare Scenario in India
This session was addressed by Dr. P. D. Vaghela, Secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals, Government of India. Ms. Aileen Nandi, Honorary USG Chair – Healthcare Services Committee, AMCHAM and Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs, U.S. Embassy gave the welcome remarks along with Healthcare Leaders and experts Ms. Meenakshi Nevatia, Chairperson – Medical Technology Group, AMCHAM and Managing Director, Stryker India Pvt. Ltd., Mr. Sarthak Ranade, Chairman – Pharma Working Group, AMCHAM and Managing Director, Janssen India, Mr. Ramesh Ramadurai, Managing Director, 3M India Limited and Mr. Praneet Mehrotra, General Manager, Teleflex Medical Asia Pacific.
The discussion was based on crisis management, business continuity and preparedness, wellbeing, technology and AI and reimagining the workplace. Ensuring access to the best quality healthcare both in pharma and technology was also discussed. Industry leaders wanted to ensure continued support from the government in regards to the key parameters that govern the ability to operate in India including a stable regulatory and IP environment, a transparent, fair, consistent pricing framework, and removal of barriers so that they can bring the best solutions to patients in India. The meeting concluded with closing remarks thanking members for their valuable inputs. Members thanked Dr. P.D Vaghela, Secretary- Department of pharmaceuticals for highlighting the initiatives to accelerate U.S.-India partnership in the healthcare sector.
Infrastructure & Logistics
The session commenced with opening remarks by Ms. Ranjana Khanna, Director General CEO, AMCHAM, followed by Mr. Sanjay Koul, Vice Chairman, AMCHAM and Chairman & Managing Director, Timken India Limited, who set the stage through his welcome remarks by bringing to light the giant strides India has taken over the years with respect to infrastructure development. He then introduced the keynote speaker Mr. Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India.
Through an engaging dialogue, Mr. Nitin Gadkari’s keynote address shed insight on ongoing Government infrastructure projects, priorities and plans to connect ports, seaways and highways to industrial clusters and logistic parks thereby integrating India with the global supply chain. In the Q&A that followed industry stalwarts Mr. Rajan Aiyer, Chairman – Tamil Nadu Chapter, Member – National Executive Board, AMCHAM and Managing Director – Trimble India & SAARC Region, Trimble Information Technologies India Pvt. Ltd., Mr. Chirag Baijal, Managing Director – Commercial HVAC, India Region, Carrier Airconditioning and Refrigeration Limited and Mr. Madhav Thapar, Vice President South Asia, C.H. Robinson Worldwide Freight India Pvt. Ltd. led by session moderator Mr. Kumar Kandaswami, Chairman – Supply Chain and Logistics Committee, AMCHAM and Partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP who posed their queries to Mr. Gadkari on digital construction technologies, digitalization of the logistics value chain and improving airport infrastructure to be better equipped with cold storage facilities for vaccines and other pharmaceutical requirements especially in light of COVID-19. The interactive and engaging session concluded with closing remarks by Mr. Sanjay Koul.
The Future of Reskilling Post COVID-19
The keynote address was given by Mr. Praveen Kumar, Secretary, Ministry for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Government of India. Mr. Kumar in his address spoke about the new normal becoming the normal. He also gave an overview of how the entire skilling sector was in for a paradigm change and how COVID had accelerated the decision-making process by putting the process on a fast track mechanism. Some of the key challenges enumerated by Mr. Kumar included – change in the job market, overall contraction of the economy, massive hit to sectors like aviation, hospitality, tourism and low recruitment levels in coming years. While mentioning that some sectors like healthcare and agriculture, contractual work and gig economy would grow further, he cautioned that the entire labor market was undergoing a change and reskilling would be essential. He also mentioned the need to make the skilling ecosystem robust and dynamic especially with the prevailing conditions with reduced capacity and changes happening at the behavioral level. He suggested to opt for greater digitization, substituting for face to face interaction, to be more output oriented, change in overall governance than ensures more employability by industry. He said that NCVT was also working towards the creation of a digital regulator and the future courses should opt for blended learning.
It was followed by an industry panel discussion on ‘Diversity, Inclusion and Skilling for Everyone.’ The panelists included Mr. Chaitanya N. Sreenivas, Chairman – HR Committee, AMCHAM and VP HR & HR Head India South Asia, IBM, Ms. Achal Khanna, Co -Chairperson – HR Committee, AMCHAM & CEO India and Business Head APAC, SHRM India Pvt. Ltd., Mr. Rajat Mathur, Managing Director, Head of India HR, Morgan Stanley, Ms. Pavitra Singh, CHRO, PepsiCo, Ms. Shreya Bhagwanth, Executive Director – Human Resources, 3M, Mr. Swadesh Behera, Sr. Director – HR Boston Scientific (India HUB) and Ms. Chaitali Mukherjee, Partner & Lead, People and Organization India Territory Lead: Upskilling for the Digital World, PwC India. The session was moderated by Mr. Deepak Joseph, Senior Country Manager, Indeed. The discussions focused on:
- Skilling – How can companies stay on top of critical skills needed to succeed in the market? And how can companies create an environment where employees are not just willing to learn new skills but eagerly awaiting such new opportunities?
- Affirmative action or passive support – Do organizations need to put in policies of affirmative actions for achieving diversity or would passive support be enough? How can it be measured/improved? Importance of measuring and sharing data periodically when it comes to making a company truly diverse and inclusive.
- Role of managers – Given the difference in working styles amongst different companies and teams,what can companies do to create guidelines that are truly embraced at every level of the organization (and every day?)
The session had a keynote address from Mr. Sanjay Chadha, Additional Secretary, Department of Commerce and a special address by Mr. Saurabh Gaur, Joint Secretary Ministry of Information Technology. The session was moderated by Mr. Arijit Sen, Co-Chairman – Manufacturing Committee, AMCHAM and Senior Director, Global Government Affairs and Public Policy Flex Group. The agenda of the session included Atma Nirbhar Bharat and how it can affect the American companies in India, Chinese products and standardization/GEM notification, perspective on PMA and how the focus of government has largely been upon mobiles. Panelists deliberated how to move to an advanced capability ecosystem. The industry speakers were Mr. Harish Krishnan, Chairman – CSR Committee, AMCHAM, Managing Director, Public Affairs & Strategic Engagements, Cisco India & SAARC, Cisco Systems (India), Dr. Ravi M. Bhatkal Ph.D. Managing Director, India, Cookson India Private Limited, MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions, MacDermid Enthone Industrial Solutions, Mr. Tabrez Ahmad, Group Director Government Affairs & Public Policy Dell Technologies and Ms. Anubhuti Kaul Bhrany, Head Government Relations – India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, HP Inc.
Energy: Digital Transformation in Oil & Gas
Ms. Ranjana Khanna, Director General CEO, AMCHAM welcomed speakers and participants. Ms. Preetha Nair, Chairperson – Energy Committee, AMCHAM and Asia Head, True North Venture Partners, gave the opening remarks. Mr. Mark W. Menezes, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy sent his recorded remarks. The keynote address was delivered by Mr. Tarun Kapoor, Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas. This was followed by a panel discussion on digital transformation in oil and gas moderated by Mr. Amit Paithankar, MD, South Asia, Emerson with panelists Mr. Neeraj Sethi, Country Leader, Baker Hughes India, Mr. Mike Banach, MD, Honeywell UOP India and Ms. Kamolika Peres, Director, Google Cloud India. The remarks and the address by the government speakers and chairperson highlighted the various initiatives under the U.S.-India strategic energy partnership in areas such as the strategic petroleum reserve, gas task force, hydrogen task force, energy industry working group under the Asia Edge program, high efficiency coal technologies with CCUS, modernization of the power systems and the growing potential for energy trade. This showed the immense potential for collaboration in trade, technology, innovation, investment and the exchange of knowledge between the U.S. and India in this sector. The panel discussion deliberated on the industrial internet of things (IIoT), data and its contextualization for interpretation, cloud computing, energy analytics, an agile working culture for better decision making and improvements in efficiency, profitability and sustainability. Overall, the U.S.-India energy partnership was seen as a bright spot and a critical pillar in our comprehensive global partnership.
August 7th, 2020
State Partnerships Inaugural Session
Ms. Valerie Swope, Program Coordinator, AMCHAM, welcomed participants and read out the message from Prime Minister Modi for AGM. Mr. Sanjay Koul, Vice Chair, AMCHAM and Chairman & Managing Director Timken India, in his opening remarks, mentioned the primary objective of AMCHAM was to increase bilateral trade between the U.S. and India. He credited Invest India, under the leadership of Mr. Deepak Bagla, for India’s growth towards a $5 trillion economy. Mr. Koul introduced the speakers for the session.
To set the scene for the day of state partnership sessions, Mr. Deepak Bagla, Managing Director & CEO, Invest India, began with the fact that on March 31st, 2020, India had received $74 billion in FDI – the highest in history. He gave an overview of the investments that have come in throughout lockdown and highlighted the strength of MSMEs. Mr. Bagla spoke on the amount of the queries received recently that have been a testimony to companies still investing, expanding in India over the last 100 days. He talked about on shoring of supply chains, labor reforms, single window clearance, the critical inflection point for India and his trust in U.S. being a strong partner for India.
In his inaugural address, Mr. Edgard D. Kagan, Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy, thanked AMCHAM and mentioned that the U.S. Mission has been able to have broader participation at the virtual AGM this year. He talked about the challenge in making predictions about the future during a pandemic, global ramifications and how to determine the best way to position ourselves. He touched upon the differences in interactions with centre and state officials. DCM Kagan complimented the Government of India for their responsiveness and availability during the COVID crisis. He talked about the importance of state governments for companies investing in India and commended AMCHAM for this state-wise initiative. As states compete to attract and retain investments, he mentioned that U.S. industry has always desired consistent policies and ease of doing business and complimented the government’s strides in that regard. To conclude the session, Mr. Koul thanked both speakers for their support of AMCHAM.
Enhancing Defense Production in India and Supporting Make in India in Partnership with Indian Defence Industry
The keynote address was given by Dr. Ajay Kumar, Defence Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Government of India. This was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Mr. William L. Blair, Vice President and Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin India Private Limited. The panelists included Mr. Nikhil Khanna, Co-Chairman – Defense Committee, AMCHAM and Managing Director – India, BAE Systems India, Mr. Salil Gupte, Member – National Executive Board, AMCHAM & President, Boeing India and Mr. Samit Ray, Regional Director Government Affairs & Public Policy South Asia, Raytheon Technologies Corporation.
Dr. Kumar, in his keynote address, touched upon the strong U.S.-India relationship and how it continues from strength to strength with its comprehensive strategic defense partnership currently exceeding $20 billion. He mentioned the signing of the foundational agreements forming the basis of a greater partnership and collaboration – COMCASA and ISA. Both governments were also reaching the advanced stage of signing a marine information sharing agreement and BECA. While the Indian armed forces have a clear acceptability of American products, Make in India for defense was also being given a push not only for India’s own requirements but also for exports by leveraging the existing ecosystems with focus on Atmanirbhar Bharat mission.
Dr. Kumar shared that the in the new Defence Capital Budget – one part would be reserved for Made in India and other part for the imported equipment. The FDI in defense in automatic route will be enhanced to 74% where the controlling stake can be held by industry. He also emphasized that the Defence Acquisition Policy was a work in progress – significant aspects of what constitutes enhancement of Make in India were being incorporated in the DAP. Value addition requirement to Make in India was also being enhanced using indigenous materials by making and certifying materials. Thrust of DAP was to streamline and enhance the overall procurement procedure. Leasing was proposed to be used as a method of procurement for defence. Price variation clause – all contracts over 1,000 crores/$125 million and over 60 months – automatically increase price for the supplier. Repeat orders are to be made simpler – single stage approval process and also field evaluation trials to be exempted. Bank guarantees simplification was also being considered where all PSU’s and select credible private sector bank were being considered. Bank guarantee amount would also be reduced on the taxes and the performance and warranty bank guarantee to be reduced to 5%. Deliberation towards a suitable percentage of offset multipliers and consideration of more investment in technology transfer as part of defense offsets with enhanced multipliers in defence corridors was being considered.
The panelists requested Dr. Kumar’s leadership to provide more opportunities with regards to enhanced movement on the strategic partnership model, enhancing multiplier on component sourcing specially when procured and manufactured in facilities set up through direct investment, while setting up of MRO’s was positive for aircrafts and helicopters it was requested if it could be extended to naval and land systems too. It was also requested to have synergizing between offsets discharge between Civil and Defense MRO since they were similar and requested the value proposition on setting up of MRO in the country.
The session had a keynote address from Lt Gen. Rajesh Pant, National Cyber Security Coordinator, National Cyber Security Secretariat, Government of India. The session was moderated by Mr. Amrit Singh Deo, Chairman – Cyber Security Committee, AMCHAM and Senior Managing Director, Strategic Communications, FTI Consulting. The panelists included industry stalwarts such as Mr. Sujay Vasudevan, Vice President, Cyber & Intelligence Solutions, Mastercard who spoke on ecosystem security and financial fraud, Mr. Prabhat Manocha, Associate Director, Government, India/South Asia, IBM who spoke about application security and infrastructure, Mr Amit Paithankar, Managing Director South Asia, Emerson, who talked about power and critical infrastructure security, Mr. Ranjit Narjala, Director, Security Solutions Engineering, Intel Corporation who touched upon devices security and Mr. Malligarjunan Easwaran, Security Practice Lead, HPE Pointnext Hewlett Packard Enterprise India Pvt. Ltd. Who shared about industrial IoT and security.
The session commenced with opening remarks by Ms. Kaku Nakhate, Vice Chair, AMCHAM and President & Country Head (India) Bank of America, N.A. who set the stage by stating the immense economic potential that Gujarat holds and the pragmatic policies that encourage various sectoral industry investment in the state. The knowledge partner for the session Mr. Pradeep Udhas, Office Managing Partner – West, KPMG shared an overview on global investment perspectives for Gujarat. Through a presentation and dialogue Mr. Manoj Kumar Das IAS, Principal Secretary to the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Principal Secretary – Industries & Mines Department, Government of Gujarat, highlighted the U.S.-India global strategic partnership, the enduring relationship and recent trends in trade between Gujarat and the U.S., the many initiatives by the government to enable an ease of doing business and a glimpse on the way forward. Mr. M. Thennarasan IAS, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation, Government of Gujarat shed insight on the initiatives by GIDC in the ease of doing business and urged U.S. companies to leverage on the many benefits offered by the state government. Ms. Neelam Rani IFS, Managing Director, Industrial Extension Bureau, Government of Gujarat spoke of the many facets that make iNDEXTb the one stop solution for investors in Gujarat.
Through her address Ms. Jennifer Larson, Acting Consul General, U.S. Consulate General Mumbai thanked the Government of Gujarat and AMCHAM for their partnership and support to U.S. companies in Gujarat. In the panel discussion moderated by Ms. Kaku Nakhate, Mr. Ravinder Dang, Member – National Executive Board, AMCHAM and VP, Commercial Excellence, APAC and Managing Director, Baxter India Pvt. Ltd. spoke positively on the support received from the government during the COVID-19 situation to enable operations at their plant in Gujarat. Mr. Anupam Jaiswal, President – DuPont South Asia, Business Director (Auto – India & ASEAN) – Transportation & Industrial, DuPont South Asia stated the need to build stronger vocational skill education systems that would benefit both industry and community. While stating the challenges faced by the construction sector and the need for training centres and policies for offsite construction, Mr. Jairam Panch, Managing Director, Turner Project Management India Pvt. Ltd. also shared his experience of partnering with the state on the construction of the iconic Statue of Unity. Mr. Rahul Tikoo, Managing Director – Indian Subcontinent & Polyurethanes, Huntsman International India Pvt. Ltd. shared his thoughts on the need for industries today to strike a balance between environment and economic sustainability and Huntsman’s initiatives therein. The engaging session concluded with closing remarks by Ms. Kaku Nakhate.
The session was opened by the reading of the message from the Honourable Prime Minister for the occasion. This was followed by Mr. Sanjay Koul, Vice Chairman, AMCHAM and Managing Director, Timken, who talked about the commitment of AMCHAM to promoting business relations between American and Indian companies. He welcomed speakers Mr. Edgard G. Kagan, Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy, Dr. C.N. Ashwath Narayan, Deputy Chief Minister, Government of Karnataka, Mr. Gaurav Gupta, Principal Secretary, Government of Karnataka, Ms. Gunjan Krishna, Commissioner for Industry and Director Department of Industries & Commerce, Government of Karnataka and industry speakers.
Mr. Edgard Kagan talked about the importance of state level relationships and the importance for American companies to see the difference between the state and the centre. He mentioned that because states are competing to attract investment there have been a lot of initiatives from states to attract investment. He thanked the Karnataka state leadership for their initiatives and support and mentioned the departure of Mr. Robert Burgess and the arrival of the new Consul General who would be arriving later in August at the U.S. Consulate General Chennai. He emphasized that the U.S. Embassy wants to hear issues and challenges and would do their best to assist companies doing business. American companies in India are doing more than bilateral trade and economic development. He touched upon the level of partnership of various state governments evidenced in the support American companies received during lockdown for key functions to continue.
Dr. C.N. Ashwath Narayan gave the keynote address mentioning key initiatives the state has recently made including land reforms pertaining to formation of industrial parks, the procurement of land by companies and encouraging individuals who are not agriculturalists to buy land. There were many reforms in ease of doing business, labour reforms and the new Industrial Policy and Industrial Facilitation Act. The Karnataka Innovation Authority enables innovations across sectors and private players have been welcomed to set up regulatory helpbox to enable start-ups to set up with regulatory assistance. In addition, the Karnataka State Digital Economy Mission in which Invest Karnataka has been set up with 51% shares have been given to Nasscom and other associations so they can help with facilitation of investment from various companies. This is the first state in the country to come out with such reforms. Dr. Ashwath Narayan said that even during COVID they have received investment of more than INR 28,000 crores. In the biotechnology space there has been encouragement for innovation and there is setting up of Bengaluru Life Science Park with investment of 5,000 crore to create an 8 million square feet facility to ensure all facilities are given for integration of IT BT converges with Bio Technology and availability of skilled manpower and training at Govt cost for demand to meet supply. He said if American companies were interested in creating an industrial park similar to how other countries like Japan have in Karnataka, the government would welcome it.
Mr. Gaurav Gupta, in his address mentioned that Karnataka was ranked number one in innovation, was one of the most progressive states in India and the largest exporter with $100 billion in export contributing to India’s 430 billion, a large part of which was IT ITeS and R&D. Bengaluru has been a major tech hub with more than 400 of the Fortune 500 companies based there and it has been the centre for the machine tool industry, start-ups and entrepreneurship particularly in partnership with Boston and the Silicon Valley. He said the state was working on the issue of how to simplify regulations for labour, clearance of projects, townships and industrial areas with infrastructure. He emphasized that working with associations like AMCHAM on joint partnerships for American companies would be welcomed.
Ms. Gunjan Krishna, in her address, said that Karnataka is home to many sectors and provides precision manufacturing, robotics and AI, analytics all together. In terms of ease of doing business – COVID has been taken as an opportunity to create reforms like labour laws (Fixed term employment has been extended, exemption of industrial establishment in SEZ, industrial dispute act has been increased to 300 workers, women across industries can work in the night shift), land reforms (109 – single window clearance, free to buy from agriculturalists and farmers), environmental laws – validity of consent and self-certifications. Companies can find all the information and applications online which ensures industry is put at ease. Self-certification would be allowed and standard procedure to be put in place for all inspections. Guarantee of service within a particular time limit and amendment to the facilitation act.
Mr. Prasad Unnikrishnan (moderator) said that Karnataka had 300,00 crore of FDI between October 2019 through March 2020, second only to Maharashtra. The new industrial policy which was to attract 5 lakh crore investment and create 2 trillion jobs would prove the MSME sector as the backbone. Mr. Amit Sharma mentioned that IBM has been in Karnataka since 1991 and has a significant resource pool. They have worked closely with GoK and have had enormous support. The COVID-19 situation has put GoK in the spotlight of how the government makes a difference and IBM was very happy with the speed with approvals for movement of people, resources and were very adaptive to changes to processes that were required. Mr. Parag Wadhawan talked about the presence of Collins in Karnataka since 1997 with close to 4,000 employees in manufacturing and engineering. When the lockdown happened, they received the permission within a week to get started to resume operations as globally aerospace was considered a critical business. For the State to react so quickly was greatly appreciated. They are trying to understand how to get into MRO and how to gain reduction in taxes for MRO and have more manufacturing capabilities. The assistance requested from the state is to expand the infrastructure for aerospace. Mr. Sanjay Vyas appreciated the 9 million square feet of bio technology park in Karnataka. Parexel has been in India for the past 8-10 years and are almost at 6,000 people across India. There is an opportunity for new and existing bio tech companies to develop new molecules from India and the ecosystem needs to extend its support to bio tech. Mr. Sanjay Koul talked about how Karanatka could take manufacturing to the next level with a focus on machine tools. The session had a brief Q&A portion.
The keynote address was given by Dr. Amit Mitra, Minister in Charge of Finance Industry Commerce & Enterprises, Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises & Textiles, Information Technology and Electronics and Public Enterprises and Industrial Reconstruction Departments, Government of West Bengal. The special address was given by Ms. Vandana Yadav, IAS, Secretary, Commerce & Industry; Department of Enterprise & Industrial Reconstruction, Export Commissioner and Managing Director of WBIDC and U.S. Consul General in Kolkata, Ms. Patti Hoffman. The panelists were Mr. Gulshan Sachdev, NEB Member, AMCHAM and MD, Quaker Chemical, Mr. Debdas Sen, Chairman – Eastern Region, AMCHAM and CEO, TCG Digital, Mr. Joydeep Datta Gupta, Partner, Deloitte Touché Tohmatsu India LLP and Mr. Arun Baid, Global Delivery Head – Banking, Financial Services & Insurance, Cognizant. Ms. Ranjana Khanna, Director General CEO, AMCHAM, opened the session and read out Prime Minister’s Modi’s message.
Mr. Gulshan Sachdev in his welcome address said that the theme for AGM on the new global order would demonstrate Bengal’s quest to be an industrial hub. It has turned into a forceful and dynamic platform that sets the pace for business development bringing potential partners together and helping industry connect amongst all stakeholders that are essential for driving Bengal to the next phase of growth. In these trying times, amidst a crisis everyone deliberates about business model transformation to match changing and ever dynamic customer experiences, explore new opportunities and develop growth paths in a thriving competitive environment to build better and robust businesses across India.
In his keynote address Dr. Mitra highlighted the various investments opportunities in the state. He spoke about West Bengal being a leading state in India in terms of economic growth fueled on the back of strategic location as the gateway to NE India, Bay of Bengal and neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar, He pointed out the following strengths: density of national IWT and railway network, power availability, 4th largest economy in India, 91.3 million consumer base, 4th largest contributor to India’s services and 6th largest contributor to India’s manufacturing GDP. He mentioned that the economy of West Bengal, which had been demonstrating an economic growth rate twice that of India, was also experiencing a slowdown under the double whammy of COVID-19 and Amphan cyclone. He said that Bengal could attract investment worth $20 million in the logistics sector by using the state’s unique location advantage and harnessing its vast network of rail, road and river. He said that introduction of GST has proved beneficial and that there were 16 Industrial Parks which have land to offer. He spoke about the opportunities for U.S. investment and collaborating with West Bengal across multiple sectors like healthcare, technology, agriculture, MSME, R&D and innovation skill development, including a new deep sea port mines and minerals, petrochemicals iron and steel.
The U.S. Consul General Patti Hoffman, in her special address to members mentioned that the U.S. government’s Indo-Pacific vision was a natural complement to India’s ‘Act East’ policy that promotes the country’s physical connectivity and economic integration with its neighbors in South and Southeast Asia and where West Bengal is a critical player given its strategic location. The inclusive vision that the United States and other like-minded countries have for South Asia, and the broader Indo-Pacific region, is that of a free, open, rules-based region, with respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, that promotes economic connectivity through private-sector-led growth, free and fair trade, responsible debt-financing practices, and the transparent development of infrastructure. The sectors in West Bengal that hold promise for American companies include: energy and renewable energy, environment, heavy engineering, mining and minerals, chemicals, petrochemicals and downstream industries; oil and gas exploration, refining and related infrastructure and the services sector – including information technology. In addition, emerging opportunities in the region’s inland waterways and port projects and airport development, have the potential to offer significant opportunities for U.S.-India collaboration. She mentioned India has been invited to join the Blue Dot Network, a branding and certification mechanism to distinguish infrastructure projects that meet international quality standards. The new network will bring together governments, the private sector and other organizations behind a set of high-quality global infrastructure development standards. Leading the Blue Dot Network for the United States is the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).
Ms. Vandana Yadav, in her remarks mentioned that the U.S. -Bengal Trade in FY 2017-18, the top 5 commodities exported to the U.S. were shrimp and prawns, cast articles of iron/steel, iron malleable, gloves for use in industry, leather wallets and purses. She mentioned that there were several leading American companies already present in West Bengal and the sectors covered were food and beverages, IT and ITeS, manufacturing, public relations and consultancy, hospitality, healthcare, banking and finance and courier service. She mentioned that sectors with potential for U.S. investment in Bengal were infrastructure, water, sanitation and hygiene, clean renewable energy, education and skill development, IT/ITeS and telecom, health, cultural cooperation and SME financing. She spoke about specific investment opportunities in West Bengal: Bengal Silicon Valley being developed as a technology hub that can attract investment in the state of West Bengal in the technology and how West Bengal offers potential for developing Logistics Park at strategic locations.
Mr. Joydeep Datta Gupta moderated the panel discussion and set the tone with his remarks on the pandemic, which he said was the single largest health and economic challenge the world has ever faced. It is likely that the pandemic will cause a severe set-back to the world, not just on economic development but also on social development and public health. He opened the session by asking the panelists what opportunities this could provide to West Bengal. Mr. Arun Baid said IT has gradually become the core board room agenda, across industries. This trend of ‘shift to digital’ has only been accelerated by the impact of COVID. This requirement of digitization of various industries aligns directly with Cognizant strategy to “Win in Digital.” Talent and reskilling would continue to be key to this strategy while everyone is focused on keeping skills sharp and up to date. He requested aggressive government action to ensure enterprise grade connectivity in all corners of the state. The focus has clearly shifted from Concrete to Cable, at least, in the short term.
Mr. Debdas Sen said that West Bengal was rich in professional talent. The state was home to world renowned educational institutions and has a culture of learning. He said that the Chatterjee Group had investments in IT, healthcare, R&D, life sciences, real estate, petrochemical, amongst others. The state was emerging as a petrochemicals and chemicals base and this has a lot of potential. He also spoke about the Chatterjee Group setting up TCG Centers for Research and Education in Science and Technology (TCG CREST). As a not-for-profit, private company, he said that they will strive to become an institution of global eminence in pursuit of excellence in research and education in new and emerging areas of science.
Mr. Gulshan Sachdev spoke about the pandemic creating a new set of opportunities, in what is being termed as the new normal. Several global corporations were restructuring their supply chains and looking for new sourcing and manufacturing bases. He said that there were many manufacturing benefits in West Bengal, such as location, talent pool and easily available raw material from Asian Countries. The discussions were concluded with a vote of thanks from Ms. Ranjana Khanna.
Mr. Vijay Inder Singla, Minister of Public Works and Information Technology, Government of Punjab, gave the keynote address. The state was represented by Ms. Vini Mahajan, Chief Secretary, Government of Punjab and Mr. Rajat Agarwal, CEO, Invest Punjab. While making her opening remarks, Ms. Aileen Nandi, Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs, U.S. Embassy, noted the large and long-standing association between U.S. companies and the state of Punjab particularly in the areas of agriculture and food processing. Industry panelists included Mr. Som Satsangi, NEB Member, AMCHAM and MD, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Mr. Ahmed ElSheikh, President, PepsiCo India, Mr. Imre Havasi, MD Animal Nutrition & Health, Cargill India, Mr. Chirag Baijal, Chairman & MD Carrier Airconditioning & Refrigeration Ltd., Mr. Manoj Madhavan, Chairman – Medical Technology Working Group, AMCHAM and Managing Director, Boston Scientific, Mr. Sanjay Bhutani, NEB Member, AMCHAM and Managing Director – India & SAARC, Bausch & Lomb India Private Limited and Mr. Mukul Varshney, Co-Chairman – Manufacturing Committee, AMCHAM and Director Corporate Affairs, Media and Communications, John Deere India. Discussions centred around avenues where U.S. companies can collaborate further in technology and manufacturing investment in the state. Industry highlighted issues connected with pharmaceuticals and healthcare and suggested consideration of establishing a Pharma Park in the state.
The message from the Honorary Prime Minister was read out at the start of the session. Mr. Rajan Aiyer welcomed the panel. Mr. Mohammed Athar welcomed Dr. Neeraj Mittal who made a presentation on the strengths of Tamil Nadu, the industrial ecosystem, the sectors where Tamil Nadu was seeking investment, incentives and subsidies the state was providing and initiatives by government to address the challenges from COVID-19. Tamil Nadu has been ranked 1st in good governance, 2nd largest economy in India, 8% of the National GDP and has the highest number of factories with 72 Fortune 500 companies. Tamil Nadu provides a conducive ecosystem for industries with proactive governance, strong industrial base, infrastructure for industry, hub for R&D, power surplus, skilled manpower, air and sea connectivity and policy support and incentives. The U.S.-Tamil Nadu relationship has been very healthy for a very long time and TN has been one of the major destinations for U.S. FDI largely from the automotive sector, building materials and chemicals. The Honourable CM visited the United States in September 2019, with a large investment delegation where 27 MOUs worth INR 5,085 crores were signed. Almost 50% of the MOUs are in various stages of implementation and 4 have already been inaugurated. In July the stream of US investments continued and 8 additional projects were signed. The focus sectors of investment opportunity in TN rely on existing strength like good manpower and connectivity. Various sector specific policies have been periodically updated to meet investor requirements like capital subsidy, land cost subsidy, environmental protection infra subsidy, stamp duty exemption, electricity duty exemption, skill development and employment incentives and SGST requirement tailor made for mega projects. The government has taken many initiatives to mitigate slowdown also.
The moderator moved the conversation to industry speakers after setting the context about dynamism in the supply chain and how TN can take advantage of this. Resilience of supply chain was becoming a major board room discussion point as most firms are looking to diversify their bases. A well-developed supplier network needs to be developed for companies to find a plus one strategy. India, because of its large internal market is attracting investors because of the consumption within India as well as for India to supply services. The sea route and connectivity would give Tamil Nadu an edge. Within the state of TN, there has been a lot of focus on integrated infrastructure like Chennai – Kanyakumar and Chennai – Bengaluru corridors for production clusters to be aligned with the right infrastructure. These are not only at a conceptual stage but have reached more progress in their execution. There is strong traction from many sectors to show resilient growth.
Mr. Arijit Sen, Co-Chairman – Manufacturing Committee, AMCHAM from Flex Group talked about the softer touch areas where Tamil Nadu scores very high. The cost of reliance on a single source destination has been exposed by COVID and therefore the pandemic has sped up what has been started by U.S. companies to de-risk their businesses. In terms of Tamil Nadu specific advantages, Tamil Nadu was the first state in which action was taken on ground on SOPs by the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure work restarted in a safe manner for companies. There were assurances from the State for 50% of the workforce to go back to work and permits were given to carry on business without much of an impact which was a tremendous win for confidence by American companies.
Mr. Rajan Aiyer from Trimble mentioned that TN was one of the preferred destinations due to the presence of talent and technology being a key factor. Infrastructure spending and build out will need to be done very quickly while resources are managed very carefully. Geospatial technology may be related here where information is tagged with spatial and time elements which allows companies to do deep dive analytics to streamline governance. The importance of technological applications in all aspects of public works will be important. Trimble has partnered with TN on various land administration projects, IIT Madras on Industry Academy consortium and start-ups for India to reach a $5 trillion economy.
Mr. Ravi Bhatkal from MacDermid Alpha, which is one of the largest inter connect materials companies worldwide, has invested in India ahead of the market for manufacturing, R&D, technical services and have been based in Chennai for 50 years out of 89 years of business. Tamil Nadu and Chennai in particular leads in education, healthcare and infrastructure exists to find talent. The company will be looking to localize advanced products as they grow in India and incentives from state and national level will help to grow investments from the advanced materials and chemicals sector. The manufacturing sector would need a concerted ecosystem development with PPP. MacDermid Alpha has been focussed heavily in terms of university engagements and to train and educate fresh engineers and train engineers.
Mr. Sampathkumar Chittibabu from ParPharm mentioned they face challenges in terms of raw material imports from China and mentioned there was a lot of scope for Tamil Nadu for allied industries. Par was looking for expansion in API industries as they have a lot of challenges in getting raw materials and there is an advantage for TN. If the government supports industries to come up with API zones for cost effectiveness that will be useful. Tamil Nadu State Authority should come up with online approvals for applications to the Government for swift approvals for industries. After a brief Q&A portion Mr. Iqbal Sait from Saggezza gave the closing remarks thanking Dr. Mittal, his team and the speakers.
The session commenced with opening remarks by Mr. Sarthak Ranade, Vice Chairman – Western Region, Chairman – Pharma Working Group, AMCHAM and Managing Director, Janssen India, Johnson & Johnson Private Limited, who shared an overview on the role of AMCHAM in supporting U.S. industries in India and its initiatives in the Western Region. The knowledge partner for the session Mr. Pradeep Udhas, Office Managing Partner – West, KPMG, shared an overview on global investment perspectives for Maharashtra.
In his keynote address Mr. Subhash Desai, Minister for Industries, Mining, Marathi Language, Government of Maharashtra, highlighted the proactive readiness of the state government in its support to industries during the COVID-19 pandemic situation, the educated and skilled young population and manpower available in the state for industries to leverage on and industrial relationship managers to support investors. Through their special address Mr. Venugopal Reddy B. Principal Secretary (Industries), Industries, Energy & Labor Department, Government of Maharashtra and Dr. P. Anbalagan, Chief Executive Officer, Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), Government of Maharashtra shed light on the tremendous improvement in the ease of doing business in Maharashtra over the past 2 years, incentive policies available for industries, the development of industrial parks, availability of land in 5 industrial zones in Maharashtra, customized business spaces, rentals and the Maha Parwana initiative. Through her address Ms. Jennifer Larson, Acting Consul General, U.S. Consulate General Mumbai thanked the Government of Maharashtra and AMCHAM India for their partnership and support to U.S. companies in Maharashtra.
In the panel discussion that followed Mr. Shailendra Jagtap, Managing Director & CEO, John Deere India Pvt. Ltd. spoke of the effects of the lockdown and the gradual recovery for the agriculture sector. He also shared success stories of the support received from the state government in manufacturing and agricultural sectors. Mr. Amitava Sur, Managing Director, Portescap India Pvt. Ltd. shared an overview of Portescap’s operations in Maharashtra and the challenges faced by his industry in the post-COVID scenario. Mr. Rajen Vagadia, Vice President & President, Qualcomm India & SAARC, Qualcomm India Private Limited gave an insight on the promise that 5G holds for the state of Maharashtra and its advantages for smart cities. The session concluded with closing remarks by Mr. Rajen Vagadia.
Mr. Sidharth Nath Singh, Cabinet Minister – MSME, Investment & Export, NRI, Sericulture, Textile & Handloom, Khadi & Gramodyog, Government of Uttar Pradesh, delivered the keynote address. A presentation on investment opportunities in Uttar Pradesh was made by Mr. Navneet Sehgal IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of MSME & Export Promotion, Khadi & Village Industries, Government of Uttar Pradesh. Industry was represented by Mr. William Blair, Vice President & Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin India Pvt. Ltd., Mr Manoj Madhavan, Co-Chairman – Medical Technology Working Group, AMCHAM and Managing Director, Boston Scientific, Mr. Sachin Tayal, Managing Director, Protiviti India Member Private Limited, Mr. Mukul Varshney, Co-Chairman – Manufacturing Committee, AMCHAM and Director Corporate Affairs, Media and Communications, John Deere India and Mr. Viraj Chouhan, Chief Government Affairs & Communications Officer, PepsiCo India. The Hon’ble Minister highlighted the current vast association between Uttar Pradesh and U.S. companies in the Defence Corridor as well as the traditional partnership that has existed in the food and agriculture sector and expressed hope that the association would only grow stronger in the years to come. The Hon’ble Minister also brought out the plans of the Government of Uttar Pradesh to set up a large Pharma Park which was been welcomed by industry delegates. The Hon’ble Minister suggested setting up a working group between AMCHAM and the government of Uttar Pradesh to drive and promote U.S. industry state partnership. The suggestion of a working group was welcomed in her closing remarks by Ms. Aileen Nandi, Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs, U.S. Embassy.
The Hyderabad Chapter organized an interactive session on opportunities offered by Telangana and ease of doing business in the state. The session began with Mr. Jayesh Sanghvi, Vice Chairman – Hyderabad Chapter, AMCHAM and Partner, Ernst & Young, who gave an overview of Telangana. Mr. K.T. Rama Rao, Minister – Information Technology, Industries & Commerce, Textiles and Municipal & Urban Development, Government of Telangana, spoke on the opportunities in Telangana and how the state has seen increased investment in all sectors. He spoke on various investment opportunities and the single window clearance system. Mr. Jayesh Ranjan (IAS), Principal Secretary – Information Technology, Industries & Commerce, Textiles, Government of Telangana, spoke on the ease of doing business and the various incentives offered to business even in the area of hiring. Mr. Joel Reifman, Consul General, U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad spoke of how the state was open to business and accessible to industry and others. He spoke of how the U.S.-India partnership in the state has been strengthened. The industry speakers for the session, Mr. V. Laxmikanth, MD, Broadridge Financial Solutions (India) Pvt. Ltd., Mr. Shashidhar Reddy, NEB Member, AMCHAM and VP Engineering, Qualcomm India, Mr. Salil Gupte, NEB Member, AMCHAM and President, Boeing India and Mr. Umang Chaturvedi, Head Policy and Markets, Mylan,
touched upon their experience in Telangana and the support they had received from the Government of Telangana during the initial stages of the pandemic which helped the smooth transition to work from home for their employees. The session closed with a vote of thanks from Mr. Jayesh Sanghvi, Partner, Ernst & Young.
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