AMCHAM, in partnership with Invest India, held ‘Enhancing the U.S. – India Economic Partnership’ on February 15th, 2019 in New Delhi. It was the signature event of AMCHAM’s Manufacturing Committee and Supply Chain and Logistics Committee. Chief guest, Mr. Suresh P. Prabhu, Hon’ble Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, gave the keynote address, in which he gave an overview of the U.S. – India Commercial Dialogue. Minister Prabhu emphasized the ‘ease of investment’ as the next important area and his ministry’s commitment to considerably improve the policies and procedures for foreign investment into India.
The inaugural plenary session began with welcome remarks by Ms. Ranjana Khanna, Director General CEO, AMCHAM, in which she thanked the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade and Invest India for setting up the U.S. – India Fast Track Mechanism for which company specific challenges can be addressed.
Mr. Arun M. Kumar, Vice Chairman, AMCHAM and Chairman & CEO, KPMG in India, gave an optimistic industry perspective of the U.S. – India economic relationship. Through unleashing synergies and facilitating trade the relationship between both countries will increase in importance as India would soon be the 3rd largest economy in the world. He congratulated the central government for the significant improvement in ease of doing business.
A special address was given by Mr. Robert Garverick, Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs and Environment, Science and Technology, U.S. Embassy. He emphasized the importance of reconvening the U.S. – India CEO Forum. The government to government U.S. – India Commercial Dialogue discussed trade facilitation, standards, regulatory policies, market access and customs arrangements, among other topics. He touched upon the America’s trade deficit with India and talked about how India can find more ways to integrate into the global supply chain. Mr. Garverick also spoke on the Indo – Pacific engagement, opportunities for U.S. companies to expand the economic relationship and regional connectivity.
Mr. Deepak Bagla, Managing Director & CEO, Invest India, discussed the opportunities in the Indo – U.S. corridor. Invest India has responded to 557 business requests from the U.S. in the last 14 months, across 32 sectors, from food processing to renewable energy to textiles and garments to electric vehicles. Mr. Bagla spoke of the mutual dependence and common synergies between both democracies and encouraged AMCHAM to take forward the partnership.
Mr. Krish Iyer, Chairperson, AMCHAM and President & CEO, Walmart India, thanked Invest India for the phenomenal job they have done attracting investment to India. He congratulated the government for the initiatives taken and India’s improved World Bank ease of doing business ranking from 142 to 77. Through transparent and candid dialogues both countries would be able to keep a wholistic view in mind. He emphasized that American companies were committed to India and discussed how the manufacturing industry would be a growth engine for India.
The participants proceeded to attend one of the parallel breakout sessions on I) future of mobility, II) agriculture and food processing or III) electronic hardware and mobiles.
Breakout Session I: Future of Mobility (Heavy Machinery & Automotive)
In ‘Breakout Session I: Future of Mobility (Heavy Machinery & Automotive)’ Ms. Surabhi Wahal, Regional Director – Western Region, AMCHAM, welcomed participants and introduced the conversation facilitator Mr. Rohinton Sidhwa, Partner, Deloitte. In the keynote address, Mr. Pravin Agrawal, Joint Secretary, Department of Heavy Industries, expressed his honor to be a part of such a forum and acknowledged the role of U.S. companies towards development in the sector. He stated that he looked forward to learning of the success and challenges faced by U.S. companies and to work on prospective solutions to create an ease of doing business. From Invest India, Ms. Aditi Anand and Ms. Varda Taneja were present.
Industry speakers at the roundtable included Mr. Rohit Kataria, Commercial Director, Corning, Mr. Kumar Kandaswami, Chairman – Supply Chain and Logistics Committee, AMCHAM and Senior Director, Deloitte, Mr. Mahadevan Ramamurthy, Country Director, Ford Smart Mobility and Mr. Rajeev Anand, Chairman & Managing Director, Goodyear India.
The interaction focused on innovations and the implementation of the future of mobility in India, best practices in the adoption of new technologies, environment and emission norms for the sector, commercial vs. private vehicles, their utilization, etc. The need to review emission norms and policies with 60% of vehicles running being commercial was brought up. Japan’s cutting edge technology that has reached advanced levels of point to point integrating supply chain, logistics and even personal travels was mentioned. The interactive discussion brought forth the emergent requirement to work towards enhancing last mile connectivity in cities while citing the example of the city of Gurugram. It was reiterated that U.S. companies were invested and committed to partner and work along with the government.
Breakout Session II: Agriculture and Food Processing
The conversation facilitator for ‘Breakout Session II: Agriculture and Food Processing’ was Mr. Siraj Chaudhry, Former Chairman and Sr Advisor, Cargill India, Independent Director. Mr. Rajeev Ranjan, Director, KPMG in India, set the scene. From the GOI, Mr. Vivek Sonny Abraham, Co-Head, Global Investor Outreach, Invest India, addressed participants and Mr. Gaurav Sishodia, Invest India, was also present. Mr. Krish Iyer, Chairman, AMCHAM and President & CEO, Walmart India, gave special remarks.
Industry speakers in the roundtable included: Mr. Viney Khunger, Managing Director – Commercial Refrigeration, Carrier, Mr. Asim Parekh, Vice President Fruit Circular Economy, Coca-Cola India, Mr. Sandeep Mahajan, Vice President, Goodyear India, Mr. Himanshu Goyal, India Sales & Alliances Leader, IBM Watson Media and Weather, Ms. Neelima Dwivedi, Vice President, PepsiCo, Mr. Michael Green, General Manager – India, Sannam S4 Consulting. From AMCHAM, Ms. Udaya Arun and Wg Cdr Rajiv Anand, attended the session.
Discussions centered around transformation of the agriculture and the food processing supply chain using digital technologies, initiatives for sustainable farming practices to bring global standards to India, initiatives to make Indian agriculture and food processing units to become global supplier and maintaining standards of quality.
There were discussions on pre/post-harvest brought about the issue of lack of farmers’ access to market, lack of his freedom in choice of market as well as inadequacy of cold chain and storage facilities. Speakers shared their opinion that although there was much ongoing government activity to benefit the farm sector, the sector was still to get its complete due. While the focus has been on improvement in productivity to enable higher income, there was a heightened need of reducing risk factors to farmers. Other topics included the importance of predicting yield based on historical data duly supplemented by weather information and data science, teaching farmers and reducing large scale wastage of produce.
It became clear that U.S. companies need to come forward as catalysts in promoting sustainability and creating a positive impact and develop collaborative farming models to benefit the sector. Invest India requested AMCHAM to identify the areas where the two organizations could partner and grow together in the interest of the farmer as well as the farming sector.
Breakout Session III: Electronic Hardware and Mobiles
The conversation facilitator for ‘Breakout Session III: Electronic Hardware and Mobiles’ was Mr. Arijit Sen, Co-Chairman – Manufacturing Committee, AMCHAM and Senior Director, Global Government Affairs, Flex. Mr. Nikhil Patil, Director, KPMG in India, set the scene. From the GOI, Mr. Sanjay Kumar Rakesh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, addressed participants and Mr. Ravish Bhatia, Invest India, was present.
Industry speakers in the roundtable included Mr. Ashwini Aggarwal, Director – Government Affairs, Applied Materials India, Mr. Divyanshu Gautam, Commercial Manager – Gorilla Glass, Corning Technologies India, Ms. Dipakshi Mehandru, Senior Advisor – Government Affairs & Public Policy, Dell, Mr. Ambrish Bakaya, Director Corporate Affairs, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Company, Cdr. Arun Jyoti, Director Government Affairs, Honeywell and Mr. Rajen Vagadia, Vice President & President, Qualcomm India & SAARC. From the U.S. Embassy, Mr. Robert Garverick, Minister Counselor, Economic, Environment, Science & Technology Affairs and Mr. Chad R. Norberg, Trade Unit Chief, participated. From AMCHAM, Ms. Valerie Swope and Mr. Amitabh Kumar attended.
The session was convened under Chatham House Rules. The conversation facilitator led the discussion, which to a large extent, revolved around the National Electronics Policy 2018. The policy has been in public domain inviting comments from stakeholders. Financial Incentive schemes to replace M-SIPS (Modified-Special Incentive Package Scheme) to compensate for the disability in cost of manufacturing, new schemes to be announced to cover MSME an large companies, incentives between DTA & SEZ areas to encourage localization, market access and exports, was discussed, among other topics.
The challenges relating to certification in India, security standards and testing facilities to ensure compliance, were discussed. Sustainable procurement, high logistics cost in India and skill development for ESDM were also mentioned.
Plenary Session: Supply Chain & Logistics
Post the sector specific breakout sessions, all participants gathered back together for a plenary session on ‘Supply Chain & Logistics.’ Mr. Kumar Kandaswami, Chairperson – Supply Chain & Logistics Committee, AMCHAM and Senior Director, Deloitte, set the stage with an overview of the future of supply chain and how AMCHAM’s members keenly look at the prospect of collaborating with the Government of India to foster an environment of progress and growth. He ushered in the 3 key areas of focus – how AI was disrupting supply chain, how regulations were shaping up supply chain and logistics in India and the significance of building diversity, talent and skills in the domain.
Mr. N. Sivasailam, Special Secretary (Logistics), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, made the keynote address and shared how U.S. companies could support the government with its vision and mission in supply chain and logistics in the country. Mr. Sivasailam stated that given the immense importance of supply chain and logistics in India’s growth story the Government of India has now appointed a Secretary specifically for this function. He also brought forth the crucial role of supply chain for businesses today, the inclination to make it more accessible and affordable and building a suitable ecosystem that facilitates transactions across various mediums.
Mr. Sarthak Ranade, Vice President – Commercial, Janssen – Pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson, spoke of the dynamically evolving technology and products of the healthcare industry and the need for supply chains to adapt therein. He cited the example of specialized needs to mobilize blood samples for the healthcare industry. He also brought to light an important facet of skilling in technology through reverse mentoring within organizations which encourages younger workforce to support industry veterans in keeping up with technological advancements.
Ms. Ursula Thakkar, Chairperson – AMCHAM Western Region and Managing Director – South Asia, Lubrizol Advanced Materials India, spoke on the significance of talent and diversity especially of women in the supply chain domain and the need to engage women in the core processes of supply chain and not just keep them confined to back office operations.
The session concluded with Mr. Kandaswami thanking Mr. Sivasailam and the panelists and expressed the keen interest of AMCHAM members to partner with the Government of India to support progressive initiatives in supply chain and logistics in India.
Summing Up Session
The final ‘Summing Up Session’ was facilitated by Mr. Vivek Sonny Abraham, Co-Head, Global Investor Outreach, Invest India, in which the following panelists highlighted the takeaways from the previous sessions: Mr. Rohinton Sidhwa, Partner, Deloitte, Mr. Siraj Chaudhry, Former Chairman and Sr Advisor, Cargill India, Independent Director, Mr. Arijit Sen, Co-Chairman – Manufacturing Committee, AMCHAM and Senior Director, Global Government Affairs, Flex, Mr. Kumar Kandaswami, Chairperson – Supply Chain and Logistics Committee, AMCHAM and Senior Director, Deloitte.
Mr. Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade, made a special address. He emphasized that efforts in policy making should be directed towards industry needs and encouraged members to reach out to government authorities not only with issues and complexities, but also with suggestions for and possible solutions towards effective implementation of the policy changes.
Mr. Nitin Atroley, Chairman – Economic Affairs Committee, AMCHAM and Office Managing Partner Delhi, KPMG in India, gave the closing remarks and thanked Secretary Abhishek and Invest India. AMCHAM would prepare a white paper on the proceedings of the day to share with the Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade. He thanked Flex for sponsoring the event.