Good Evening! I am delighted to be here tonight with the Rotary Club of Madras North. I want to thank President Raja and President Elect Srinivasan for organizing USA Night.
I am big fan of the work of Rotary Clubs internationally, and I commend the range of community service activities in which the Rotary Club of Madras North is involved – from supporting education for the underprivileged to improving public health, and promoting responsible corporate citizenship.
In the next few minutes, I’d like to make a few brief remarks about the U.S.-India partnership and highlight some upcoming business opportunities.
Also here with me this evening from the U.S. Consulate in Chennai is our Principal Commercial Officer Jim Golsen, – whom many of you already know – and he’ll also be available to discuss commercial opportunities with you after the program.
Today, U.S.-India partnerships cover virtually every human endeavor – with collaborations across the public and private sector, that have evolved from long-standing ties between the citizens of our countries.
One of our goals at the Consulate is to facilitate the expansion of these collaborations for the increased health, prosperity, stability and progress for our societies.
These ties between our countries often start with our youth, and through educational links and exchanges. Education is a critical priority for both of our countries and providing high quality, and inclusive, education to our youth is a shared value of our people.
The U.S. and India have been collaborating in education for decades through programs such as the U.S. Fulbright grants as well as student and faculty exchanges.
Today, around 100,000 Indians study in the U.S, and I’m delighted that student visa applications are up in South India by 15% this year. We hope this trend will continue, and more young Indians will decide to visit and study in the U.S.
I’m also pleased that we are also seeing the number of Americans studying in India increasing as well. We are fortunate to have robust educational resources in Chennai to offer aspiring Indian students and academics through the U.S. India Education Foundation (USIEF), which is collocated with our U.S. Consulate library.
USIEF provides expert counseling services to students – and their parents – interested in attending U.S. institutions as well as administering our Fulbright and other education grant programs.
Alongside education, business and trade historically have been strong anchors in the U.S.-India relationship.
The U.S.’ and India’s bilateral trade relationship is close to 1 billion dollars today. The United States remains the leading investor in India, while India is the third fastest-growing source of investment in the U.S.
We see a lot more opportunity for Indian firms wishing to do business with U.S. companies and invest in the U.S.
Jim and his Commercial Service team are laser-focused on how we can further facilitate these commercial partnerships. One way we are doing this is reaching out broadly throughout South India.
We know that much of India’s and the U.S.’ economic growth potential lies outside of the mega-cities of India, in smaller Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, in places like Coimbatore and San Antonio. We want to include more companies throughout our countries in this growth.
To support this effort, two years ago, Jim and his team launched our American Business Corner (ABC) program to partner with local chambers in India’s Tier 2 commercial hubs. Today, we have twelve ABCs located throughout India and six of them in South India.
We’ve been very pleased with the response to these ABCs – and the initiatives by our local chamber partners to promote bilateral trade, such as the organization of two trade delegations to the U.S. by the local chapter of the Tamil Nadu Chamber in Madurai.
Jim and his team also host a number of U.S. delegations to South India each year.
Information about upcoming delegations and events are posted on the Consulate’s website, and I also encourage you to contact Jim and his staff about events and programs that may be of interest to you.
Already on this upcoming fall schedule, our Commercial Office will be hosting U.S. Trade Missions in franchising and healthcare in Bangalore, and a U.S. Education and Ports Trade Mission in Kochi.
Jim’s staff will also be leading an Indian delegation of 100+ companies to the world’s largest Audio Visual trade show “Infocomm 2014” to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, from June 18-20.
There are many reasons why Indian companies may also want to consider the United States as a premier destination for overseas investments – record low energy costs, a streamlined approval process, world-class universities and labor, and access to over 20 additional markets through high-level bilateral and multilateral international trade agreements, just to name a few.
For companies interested in expanding their global reach by investing in the U.S., the United States Government has created the SelectUSA initiative, overseen by the U.S. Department of Commerce, to simplify the process from evaluating the best location for your business through assisting you to navigate U.S. legal requirements and approvals.
If you are interested in investing in the U.S., I encourage you to reach out to Jim’s office for more information about the SelectUSA program and what services we can offer you.
In closing, I’d like to emphasize how much the U.S. Consulate team and I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you on this special USA night.
We look forward to talking with you further tonight.