Modi & Obama’s remarks at the India-U.S. Business Summit
New Delhi: Remarks by Prime Minister at the India-U.S. Business Summit:
Mr. President, distinguished guests,
My heartiest greetings on Republic Day! I am deeply honoured to do so as the first Prime Minister born in free India.
On this day, sixty five years ago, the people of India gave themselves the longest written constitution in the world.
It was a constitution for a society with huge diversity and disparities; for a young nation facing many challenges and constraints.
It was a pledge, rooted in the ancient wisdom of our land – of faith in co-existence, assemblies and republics. A Constitution forged from the highest ideals and inspired by a lofty vision; vision and values that define India and the United States of America. We are two nations blessed because of this rich inheritance; even more because of generations of Indians and Americans, who have preserved and upheld them. For our nation, the journey has been impressive. But the road ahead is still long; because, the hopes that we wrote into our Constitution still elude many.
It will be fulfilled only when every Indian has a life of dignity; freedom from want; and, belief in the possibility of dreams.
Last May, in a historic election, our nation renewed its pledge to that vision. In the past eight months, we have worked tirelessly to fulfil that mandate – not just to increase our economic growth. It is also to transform the quality of life of our people and preserve the gifts of Mother Nature. Our task is huge; and, it won`t happen overnight. We are conscious of our challenges; but also, inspired by our many successes. And, we have the energy of our youth, the enterprise of our businesses and the genius of our farmers. Above all, we have the confidence and optimism of the nation. To this audience, I hardly need to spell out the series of bold steps that we have taken.
My message to you is this:
You will find environment that is not only open, but also welcoming. We will guide you and walk with you in your projects. You will find a climate that encourages investment and rewards enterprise; It will nurture innovation and protect your intellectual property. It will make it easy to do business; our immediate target is to bring us from the rear ranks of the world into the top fifty. You will find a tax regime that is predictable and competitive. We have removed some of the excesses of the past. We will now soon address the remaining uncertainties. Our goal is an economy where skills, infrastructure and resources will not be constraints to growth. In the world of economics, numbers are often an unforgiving mirror to performance. They are telling us that we are on the right path. Our economic growth has increased by a percentage point. Today, business sentiments in India are the strongest among major Asian markets. Consumer confidence in India has turned positive after three years. Growth in the eight core sectors of the economy has increased sharply. Inflation is at a five-year low. And, 110 million new bank accounts have opened in the last four months. Investments from the United States have jumped by 50% in the first six months of my Government. And, I know that some of the pledges made in September in Washington have begun to flow in. Yes, I do keep track of these things!
The scale of our dreams is vast; therefore, the opportunities we offer are huge. We speak of a revolution in our Railways. It carries more people daily than the size of the population of three-fourths of the countries in the world. Our ambition of a Clean Ganga involves 500 million people, hundreds of towns and thousands of villages. Our plans of urban waste treatment must deal with more than 500 cities with a population of over 100,000. Our vision of a connected rural India extends to over 600,000 villages. And, a roof over the heads of every Indian in the next seven years needs at least five million new dwellings every year. It is not just policy and strategies that will take us there.
Everything we wish to do involve enterprise and investments, but even more - innovation and imagination. Much of our journey to development is still ahead of us. And, we will pursue a more sustainable path to prosperity. We make this choice with the natural instinct of our culture and tradition. But, we also do this with a commitment to our future. We are more likely to succeed if we offer affordable solutions, not simply impose choices. This requires access to more resources and better technology. That is why I have called for global public action to develop clean energy. In this, we should take a lesson from past efforts to tackle hunger and many diseases. India`s progress is the destiny of 1.25 billion people. But, the success of one-sixth of humanity will also be a great outcome for this world. It will be a world with much less poverty and want; infants with a much better chance to survive; daughters with a life of opportunity; and, a huge global resource in 800 million empowered and skilled youth.
India will be an important anchor of stability for the global economy; and an engine for its growth. Above all, a prosperous India will be a force of peace and stability in the world. We have seen that prosperity is no guarantee for peace. I repeat prosperity is no guarantee for peace. But, India sees the world as one family; and we wish to shape it in the values that define our nation. Our inter-dependent world needs strong international partnerships more than ever before. And, few partnerships are so rich in promise and so capable of shaping our world as ours.
We only have to see the history of our cooperation. We have worked together to usher in the Green Revolution in India. We have collaborated in Space. We have partnered in setting up IITs and IIMs. And, we have helped shape the digital age. Our engineers, scientists and doctors are developing affordable medical devices for rural areas; and, new vaccines for children. Over 90 institutions from our two countries are collaborating on biofuels; solar energy; and, energy efficiency. U.S. companies are transferring advanced skills and technologies to India. And, Indians are powering U.S. businesses. Indian IT companies are creating skilled jobs in the United States; and, helping U.S. companies stay ahead. They have also helped U.S. military veterans rebuild their lives. We have more than 100,000 Indian students in the United States and thousands of American students visiting India. They are sowing the partnerships of tomorrow. And, the success of 3.0 million Indian Americans points to our potential.
Our businesses work together in the familiar environment of democracy; and, in the comfort of our friendship and goodwill. We are now forging ahead in new areas like civil nuclear energy, renewable energy and defence equipment.
Economic resurgence in both countries gives us greater optimism about the future of our ties.
As the two largest democracies, we have a fundamental stake in each other`s success – for the sake of our values and our shared interests. Working by ourselves, we can still advance our common interests. But, if we work together, we can achieve greater success. Our partnership will be vital for prosperity at home and our economic leadership abroad. It will help address global challenges of our times.
For too long, India and the United States have looked at each other across Europe and the Atlantic. When I look towards the East, I see the western shores of the United States. That tells us that we belong to the same vast region. It is a region of great dynamism, but also many unsettled questions. Its future will be vital for our two countries and the destiny of this world. And, our relationship will be indispensable in shaping its course. In the strength of our partnership, I see a greater chance for a world united in shared pursuits and common purposes. Quite simply, the joined hands of India and the United States will make this world a better place for all. This morning, America joined us in friendship to celebrate our shared values. This evening, we have come together in a shared commitment to our future. With your leadership, Mr. President, and with the support of our gifted people, we will turn our commitments into concrete action. Thank you for being with us today, Mr. President; thank you to you all for coming from the United States and all over India. Your participation has made this Summit more meaningful.
Remarks by President Obama at U.S.-India Business Council Summit
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good evening. Thank you so much, Madam Minister for not only the introduction, but for the work that you’re doing every day to bring our two countries closer together. Thank you all for the very warm welcome. I was proud to speak to the U.S.-India Business Council in Mumbai on my last visit to India. And it’s good to be with you again. I thank you, the CII, FICCI, and the government of India for hosting us.
I’m pleased to be joined on this visit by leaders from my administration who are dedicated to expanding the trade and investment between our two countries, and I just want to mention them briefly: Our Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker; the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Raj Shah; the President and CEO of our Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Elizabeth Littlefield; and the Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, Lee Zak.
Prime Minister Modi, I want to thank you again -- both for your invitation to join you on this incredible Republic Day and the wonderful hospitality that you’ve shown me over the past two days. Today’s ceremonies and parade were truly spectacular. It was a moving tribute to India’s founding, its democracy, its progress. After all those hours in the reviewing stand together, I figured that the Prime Minister might be tired of me by now. But what’s another speech between friends. (Laughter and applause.) I will not, by the way, ride a motorcycle today -- (laughter) -- after watching those incredible acrobats.
As I said yesterday, even as this visit is rich with symbolism, it’s also a visit of great substance. We’re advancing the vision that I laid out on my last visit -- India and the United States as true global partners. And a core element of this vision is greater trade, investment and economic partnership. Our two business communities -- all of you -- have been some of the strongest champions for a closer relationship, and I want to thank you for your commitment. You understand better than anybody that in our globalized world, the fortunes of the United States and the fortunes of India are inextricably linked. We can grow and we can prosper together, and establish a set of global norms in terms of how business is done that will benefit not just our two countries, but people around the world. And when I spoke to you on my last visit, I pledged to broaden and deepen our economic ties -- and that’s what we’ve done.
In the last few years, we’ve increased trade between our countries by some 60 percent. Today, it’s nearly $100 billion a year -- which is a record high. And this is a win-win. It’s a win for America and our workers because U.S. exports to India are up nearly 35 percent, and those exports support about 170,000 well-paying American jobs. At the same time, Indian investment in our country is growing, as well. And those Indian investments are supporting jobs across America. We've got high-tech jobs in upstate New York, manufacturing jobs in North Carolina, engineering jobs in places like Michigan and Ohio.
And our growing trade is a win for India, because increased U.S. exports and investment here mean more American-made planes flying passengers on India’s airlines all over the world, more American-made turbines generating the energy India needs to continue with its growth, more American-made machinery upgrading India’s infrastructure. And because we’ve made it easier for foreign companies to sell and invest in America, India’s exports to the United States are also increasing -- and that means more jobs and opportunities here in India. In the end, that’s the purpose of trade and investment -- to deliver a better life for our people. And both Indian and American workers are and can benefit even more in the future from close ties between our two countries.
So we’re moving in the right direction. I want to thank everybody here for the progress that we’ve achieved together. That said, we all know that the U.S.-India economic relationship is also defined by so much untapped potential. Of all America’s imports from the world, about 2 percent come from India. Of all of America’s exports to the world, just over 1 percent go to India -- 1 percent to over a billion people. We do about $100 billion a year in trade with India, which is a great improvement since I took office. But we do about $560 billion a year with China. That gives you some sense of the potential both for the kind of growth that India might unleash, and the potential for greater trade between our two countries. So I think everybody here will agree, we’ve got to do better. I know Prime Minister Modi agrees, and he just shared his expansive vision on this issue with you.
As we announced yesterday, we’ve taken a number of concrete steps forward on this visit. New breakthroughs will help us overcome some key issues and move us toward fully implementing our civil-nuclear agreement. We’ve taken another big step forward in our defense cooperation with a new technology and trade initiative so that Indian and American companies can jointly develop and produce new defense technologies. We’ve agreed to resume discussions that would move us toward a bilateral investment treaty that would facilitate Indian businesses making more investments in the United States, and U.S. businesses making more investments here in India.
And we’ve agreed to step up our efforts with a new high-level U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue to make sure we’re taking concrete steps that build on our progress so that when two leaders share a vision and make agreements, we know that our agencies, our bureaucracies will follow through aggressively and we can hold them accountable. Prime Minister Modi, I want to thank you for your personal commitment to helping us advance all of these efforts.
Today, I’m proud to announce additional steps -- a series of U.S. initiatives that will generate more than $4 billion in trade and investment with India and support thousands of jobs in both of our countries. Specifically, over the next two years, our Export-Import Bank will commit up to $1 billion in financing to support “Made-in-America” exports to India. (Applause.) And OPIC will support lending to small and medium businesses across India that we anticipate will ultimately result in more than $1 billion in loans in underserved rural and urban markets. And our U.S. Trade and Development Agency will aim to leverage nearly $2 billion in investments in renewable energy in India. (Applause.)
So we’re moving forward. There’s new momentum, there’s new energy, new hope that we can finally begin to realize the full potential of our economic relationship. And I want to close by suggesting several specific areas where we need to focus.
First, we have to keep working to make it easier to do business together in both our countries. For the past two years, business leaders like you voted America as the best place in the world to invest. I'm pretty happy about that. We're going to keep working through what we've called SelectUSA, an initiative to cut red tape, streamline regulations so that even more companies like yours -- from India and around the world -- come and set up shop in America.
Now, here in India, as the Prime Minister just discussed, there are still too many barriers -- hoops to jump through, bureaucratic restrictions -- that make it hard to start a business, or to export, to import, to close a deal, deliver on a deal. We hear this consistently from business leaders like you. And right before coming out here, the Prime Minister and I joined some of you in a roundtable where you described some of the challenges that you face.
Prime Minister Modi has initiated reforms that will help overcome some of these barriers, including a new government committee dedicated to fast-tracking American investments. And we enthusiastically support these efforts. We need to be incentivizing trade and investment, not stifling it. (Applause.) We need to be fostering a business environment that’s more transparent and more consistent, and more predictable. In knowledge-based economies, entrepreneurs and innovators need to feel confident that their hard work and, in particular, their intellectual property will be protected.
Second, we can work together to develop new technologies that help India leap forward. And I know I speak for the American companies represented here when they say they’re ready to partner with Indian firms to build next-generation trains that run on cleaner energy and to lay the new railways India needs for the future. They’re ready to help upgrade roads and ports and airports to make it easier for Indians to connect with each other and with the world. They’re ready to install broadband connections to give communities reliable access to the Internet and to help build the smart cities that Prime Minister Modi has called for. And on this visit, we’ve paved the way to mobilize American expertise and investment in three of these cities. And we’ll send two trade missions to India this year focused specifically on upgrading India’s infrastructure.
And finally -- and I know this is something that is of great concern to Prime Minister Modi and is of great concern to me and the United States -- we need to make sure that economic growth in both our countries is inclusive and sustained. India’s astonishing growth in recent decades has lifted countless millions out of poverty and created one of the world’s largest middle classes. There’s an important lesson in that. Growth cannot just be measured by the aggregate. It can’t just be measured by GDP. It can’t just be measured by the bottom line on a balance sheet. Growth, in the end, has to make people’s lives better in real, tangible and lasting ways.
Prime Minister Modi has laid out an ambitious vision for the future that lifts up India and its people. And I know that the Prime Minister has even taken to sweeping the street himself -- (applause) -- and that CEOs are following his lead. We might have to try that in the United States. (Laughter.) The United States is ready to work with you to help every home and business in India have reliable access to electricity so more families can share in India’s progress.
And as we announced yesterday, we want to support India’s goal of expanding solar energy, help improve air quality in Indian cities, and expand access to clean water. There’s good business sense, by the way, in being environmentally sound. And one of the great potentials for India and one of the great necessities for the world is that we find ways to lift people out of poverty and provide them power in ways that are sustainable and allow you to leap-frog over some of the dirty development strategies of the past directly into the clean strategies of the future.
As you work to give every Indian household a bank account, American companies are ready to help to make sure these accounts can help Indians in their day-to-day lives, by digitalizing retail transactions. As we grow, we have to do it responsibly, and stay true to our values and uphold basic standards and rule of law. We have to keep striving to protect the rights of our workers; to make sure that our supply chains are sourced responsibly.
Today, I’m also proud to announce a new public-private partnership to help millions of proud Indian-Americans directly invest in India’s future. Our new Indian Diaspora Investment Initiative will allow folks back home to generate a new stream of financing for Indian businesses that are investing in non-traditional, and too often overlooked, markets -- whether it’s providing health care to rural communities, or improving water and sanitation, to opening up some of those new bank accounts.
And this can be another spark in India’s economic engine. I know from talking with so many Indian-Americans that they are very excited about this opportunity. They’re ready to do even more to help unleash India’s success. And it’s just one more example of how much we can achieve, how much more good we can do if we keep working together -- as governments and as business and as citizens.
Let’s make it possible for a young woman in a rural village to start a business with a partner in America that will change both their lives. (Applause.) Let’s encourage young scientists at American universities to collaborate with partners in India to develop new technologies that will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and protect our planet. Let’s make it easier for Indians and Americans to work together across the board -- to buy from one another, to invest in one another, to create with one another -- and in so doing, lift the fortunes of all of us. That’s the future I believe in for our countries. And that’s the future I know we can achieve, if we’re willing to work for it together.
I know the Prime Minister has expressed his commitment. You have the commitment of the President of the United States and my administration. I’m looking forward to working with all of you. The next time I come to India, I expect we will have made more progress.