Good afternoon and thank you for the very warm welcome.
We are delighted to have the Governor from the great state of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, with us today in Chennai. But before formally introducing the Governor, with her permission, I would like to say a few words about the U.S. business profile in India.
I am new to South India, having arrived here only two months ago. However, in the short time I have been here I have been inspired by the great story of U.S.-Indian commercial ties.
The visionary goal for U.S.-Indian bilateral trade is to reach the $500 billion mark. This ambitious goal was reiterated by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi during the Prime Minister’s recent visit to the United States.
Our bilateral trade has already reached a level of $95 billion and we are confident this figure will continue to grow.
Our two-way investment is equally impressive: Indian investment in the United States totals $9 billion and supports over 45,000 jobs, while U.S. investment in India exceeds $28 billion and employs 500,000.
As these numbers demonstrate, the United States and India share a strong and growing economic relationship, driven by entrepreneurial and visionary individuals, such as Governor Haley, institutions, and businesses in both countries.
EDUCATION AND BUSINESS
The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai is naturally focused on business and people –to-people exchanges. Our Consulate is one of the top visa adjudication posts in the world and number one in processing employment based visas. We also promote education in the U.S. because education is not only big business, it is a key pillar in our strategic partnership. Over 100,000 Indian students are studying at colleges and universities in the United States, up 6% from last year as the just-published Open Doors report announced. We are equally committed to encouraging more Americans to study in India and have re-launched the Passport to India program. This innovative public-private partnership aims to develop the next generation of business, science, and political leaders through increased internships, service learning, and study abroad opportunities in India.
We believe that there is strong potential for educational linkages between great American universities, such as those in South Carolina, and South India. Our Consulate is committed to helping make those connections as we are doing today with Vellore Institute of Technology in Chennai during a conference on the Internationalization of Higher Education. Business and education leaders from the United States and India are discussing industry and academia collaborations between employability skills, and alternatives to higher education.
To help us reach out to businesses throughout India, the U.S. Mission has a large, interagency team working in multiple locations. Our Consulate’s Commercial Office covers all five states in South India. The Department of Commerce is also the lead agency for the U.S. Government’s Select USA initiative that helps companies navigate the regulations and incentives for investing in America.
States such as South Carolina are business friendly and eager to welcome your investment. In order to highlight the many advantages the United States offers for business, I would like to call your attention to next year’s Select USA Investment Summit that will take place in National Harbor, Maryland on March 23rd to 24th. This high profile event is poised to attract investors from around the world to engage with U.S. policymakers and state and local officials to discuss a wide range of topics about the U.S. investment climate. I know that South Carolina will be there in force.
In short, our bilateral economic ties are growing and we want India’s businesses to capture the great opportunities in expanding our partnerships. Organizations like the Confederation of Indian Industries are important strategic partners for us and play a critical role in building our trade relations.
I would like to thank CII for not only hosting us today but for providing invaluable support this week at the India-U.S. Technology Summit which just concluded in New Delhi. South Carolina had a highly visible profile and positive impact at the Tech Summit thanks to Governor Haley and the participation of her business delegation.
And now it is my great honor to introduce to you the Governor of the State of South Carolina, Nikki Haley.
As CII members can appreciate, the Governor – before entering politics – helped run her family business, growing it into a multi-million dollar operation.
In 2010, after five years serving in the South Carolina House of Representatives, she was elected as Governor, becoming the first female and the first Indian-American Governor in that state’s history.
Since taking office, Governor Haley has created more than 57,000 jobs in South Carolina and attracted more than $13.8 billion in investment.
For this fine performance, the fine people of South Carolina just this month re-elected Governor Haley to her second term.
Given her strong emphasis on business development and prosperity for South Carolina, it is no surprise to find her here in South India promoting business opportunities and new prosperous ties connecting you to her state as well.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in welcoming South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.