BANGALORE: Good evening, distinguished members of the Expat Entrepreneurs Circle (EEC), and ladies and gentlemen. It is my great pleasure to be here tonight to participate in the second anniversary meeting of the EEC, and to have the opportunity to interact with you.
Joining me this evening from the U.S. Consulate in Chennai are: our Principal Commercial Officer Jim Golsen, whom many of you here may already know; Shravan Surendra from our Consular section; and Manjushree Phookan based at our trade and commercial office here in Bangalore.
On the occasion of this 2nd anniversary celebration of the EEC, I extend my congratulations to its founding members for their forward-looking idea to form an organization bringing together foreign entrepreneurs doing business in India. Traveling throughout South India over the last three years has underscored to me the untapped potential in India for entrepreneurship, and in Bangalore in particular, a city known for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Our U.S.-India partnerships cover virtually every human endeavor – to include entrepreneurship – and have evolved from decades of people to-people ties between our countries.
One of our goals at the Consulate is to facilitate the expansion of these ties for our shared future. These ties often start with our youth, and in educational links. Education is a critical priority for both of our countries and a uniting bond between our people.
Today, around 100,000 students from India study in U.S. institutions of higher learning, making India is the second largest place of origin for foreign students coming to the United States.
I imagine a number of you in this room also might have studied in U.S. schools, stayed and became U.S. citizens and then, like many other American citizens of Indian origin, returned to India to pursue promising opportunities here.
With many U.S. citizens either coming to – or returning to – India, we are continuing to see growth in our U.S. citizens residents here to include an estimated 20,000 individuals living in Bangalore.
This frequent coming and going of citizens on both sides, has also contributed to growing tourism between our countries. On the U.S. side, we have seen an 18% growth in travel from India to the U.S. just from 2012 to 2013 with 800,000 India citizens traveling to the U.S. last year.
And business and trade historically have been strong anchors in the U.S.-India relationship. Today, around 175 U.S. companies have operations in Bangalore. The United States remains the leading investor in India, while India is the third fastest-growing source of investment in the U.S.
And in Chennai and Bangalore, both the U.S. Consulate and U.S. Commercial Service staff are focused on how we can further facilitate these commercial partnerships.
And on this subject, I’d like to mention one of our big upcoming trade events which our office will be supporting early next year.
The U.S. Mission will host a franchising trade delegation from the United States coming to the cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. The franchise business is becoming increasingly popular in India across a whole range of sectors, and we see a lot of partnership and entrepreneurship opportunities in this area.
I encourage EEC members to be in touch with Jim and our office here in Bangalore for details on this trade mission coming up in early 2015.
As I believe this group knows very well, entrepreneurship is highly valued in the United States. This is not so surprising, when one considers that the nation was built by, and grew as the result of, individuals with entrepreneurial vision and determination to make their dreams a reality.
Looking to the needs of the 21st century, the U.S. government supports the growth of entrepreneurship globally – as greater economic opportunities create prosperity and stability and new innovations bring inclusivity through bringing new technology, goods and services to greater numbers of the world’s citizens.
I congratulate the Expat Entrepreneurs Circle on your initiatives to forward economic partnerships and innovation between the U.S. and India.
I thank you for inviting me and my team to be part of your anniversary celebrations this evening and we look forward to learning more about your experiences in Bangalore and how the U.S. Consulate and U.S. Commercial service may be able to assist you and your businesses.