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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Remarks to the Virginia-India Business Roundtable

Geoffrey Pyatt
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
Tysons Corner, VA
June 21, 2012


Thank you for that kind introduction. Thank you also to the Virginia India Business Roundtable for hosting this event and for inviting me to say a few words. I want to congratulate you on the launch of the Roundtable. Best of luck as you work to further strengthen links between Virginia and India. Enhancing state and city engagement between the U.S. and India is one of our focus areas at the State Department and is a topic about which I will say more later.

It is an honor to appear alongside Lieutenant Governor Bolling – both as a representative of the U.S. State Department and a resident of this great state. It is also a pleasure to be here with Virginia Treasurer Manju Ganeriwala.

I work at the State Department, which as you know is the government agency responsible for managing our global affairs. So why, you may ask, am I - an international diplomat focused on South and Central Asia - speaking in Tysons Corner, Virginia?

The answer is simple: In today’s interdependent global economy, what is good for India is good for America, and vice versa.

Few states understand this better than Virginia. Northern Virginia is only a short ride from Washington, DC, but it feels like another world. The astounding number of successful high-technology companies lends a dynamic feel not unlike that of Silicon Valley.

This region has it all: a highly educated and incredibly diverse workforce, world-class universities, leading venture capitalists, globally competitive multinationals, technology start-ups, business incubators, and supportive government policies.

Indeed, this area is so globally networked that the county in which this city sits – Fairfax County – has an economic development office that actively engages with countries like India. In fact, our bureau participated in an Indo-American Chamber of Commerce conference last month featuring a delegation of over 30 businesses from India and comprehensive support and involvement from the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.

Just as Virginia has transformed itself into a hub for technology innovation, we in government are also changing the way we do business. The global economic landscape has changed. To meet this new reality, Secretary Clinton recently announced her vision of Economic Statecraft.

Economic Statecraft is not just about commercial diplomacy; it is about how we manage the global economy in furtherance of prosperity and American leadership. It stems from a recognition of the critical linkages between American jobs and U.S. relationships around the world. Under Economic Statecraft, engaging with entrepreneurs and businesses like all of you is firmly part of our mandate.

The drive to better link our policies to American global economic competitiveness originates at the highest levels of government. At the start of his presidency, President Obama launched the National Export Initiative, which set a goal of doubling our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America.

The imperative to change our internal growth dynamics to be more export-oriented is clear:

· Exporters pay wages 13-18% higher than other firms and are less likely to go out of business

· Foreign markets are incredibly attractive; in India alone, hundreds of millions of new middle class consumers will come online over the next 10-20 years

At the State Department, we are playing our role by helping broaden the number of companies that export to India and by increasing the number of regions in India to which businesses export.

At our recently concluded U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, we advanced a range of economic and technology-related initiatives. From a Bilateral Investment Treaty to diabetes research to capacity building and governance training in third counties, there is little that isn’t on our agenda with India.

The common connecting thread is a realization that collaboration is essential to our respective success. Across government, our diplomats, scientists, military personnel and policy makers are working together with the belief that this collaboration will create a world that is safer, greener and more prosperous. Beyond the conversations in Delhi and Washington, we seek a partnership that gives local officials, entrepreneurs and civil society leaders a stake in the outcome.

Let me talk briefly about one dimension of our growing partnership I know this crowd will particularly appreciate: boosting our mutual prosperity.

Over the past decade, our bilateral trade has doubled and then almost doubled again. If trends continue, we are on track to reach more than $100 billion in two-way trade this year – four times the amount in 2000. India is among the fastest growing investors in the United States, highlighting the mutually beneficial nature of our economic relationship.

As bilateral trade flourishes, we see software development, hardware manufacturing, aerospace, and healthcare industries all thriving, building out a diversified economic base reflecting the Indian economy of tomorrow, directly linked to global markets and vital to U.S. and global economic prosperity.

Defense trade, an area of special relevance to Virginia’s economy, was virtually nil a decade ago. It is nearly $9 billion today. Defense cooperation is not just about sales, it’s about creating new linkages between our technology and business sectors. Our scientists and military personnel are increasingly asking not only what they can buy but what they can co-produce and co-develop. The significant steps the Obama administration has taken to ease technology transfer and licensing with India are intended to facilitate this trend and strengthen our defense ties.

At the State Department it is all hands on deck as we work to help accelerate these trends. Our Embassy and four consulates are fully committed to helping U.S. businesses succeed in the Indian market. A favorite mantra of Nancy Powell, our newly arrived ambassador in New Delhi, is “the business of the U.S. Mission in India is business.”

In this context, India is more relevant to Virginia than ever. Virginia and India have natural synergies across multiple sectors, from information technology to high-end manufacturing. These synergies stretch beyond business too. The Indian-American community has become a fully integrated part of the social, business and cultural fabric of Virginia. One can find a great Indian meal in dozens of cities and towns throughout Virginia, and there are now Hindu temples in Roanoke, Richmond, and Hampton Roads - all places that just a generation ago had few Indian-American residents let alone temples.

The Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology, referred to by those in the know as simply “TJ,” is a particular source of local pride. TJ was ranked by US News & World Report as the best public high school in the nation from 2007 to 2011. Thomas Jefferson High School’s student body is majority Asian, a large portion of which are Indian-American. More than a few of these students, by the way, are children of graduates of another well-known institution – the Indian Institute of Technology.

In the latest Intel Science Talent Search, the nation’s most prestigious pre-college science competition, TJ produced eleven semi-finalists, an amazing five of which were Indian-American. It is safe to say that Virginians will be contributing to the global economy and knowledge base for a long time to come.

The Virginia State legislature even passed a resolution this March commending the Indian American community, stating “the Indian American community of Northern Virginia plays a vital role in the economic prosperity and rich cultural fabric of the Commonwealth.”

The complementarities between this state and India are already bearing fruit. Virginia exported nearly $293.7 million in goods to India during 2010. India is now Virginia's 15th largest export destination - up from 24th in 2008.

Virginia’s corporate activity in India includes a broad range of sectors. Richmond-based MeadWestvaco, the multinational packaging company, has an alliance with Wadco Packaging Pvt. Ltd, one of the largest Indian corrugated fiber carton makers, through which they are helping Indian businesses reduce product loss and improve the bottom line. This is crucial in India where produce can lose up to 40% of its value before reaching the consumer due to inefficient handling and processing.

Virginia is also a perfect microcosm of the two-way nature of our trade ties with India. Indeed, more and more Indian corporations are growing their business and investment in the United States, supporting thousands of American jobs. We have here today a shining example of this – Tata, which has its Tata Communications office in Herndon.

We often refer to our economic relationship with India as a knowledge-based one. This knowledge-based partnership, based on innovation and technology, is fueled not only by businesses but also by venture capitalists, start-ups and universities. These new economy actors understand that R&D networks are global and innovation can happen anywhere, whether in Blacksburg, Virginia or Noida, India.

· New Atlantic Partners, a Reston-based venture capital firm invested in Noida, India-based Pine Labs, which is a payment and loyalty solutions start-up serving Indian retailers that want to automate their operations while offering better services to consumers.

· Earlier this month, Virginia Commonwealth University welcomed a delegation of Indian educators led by Dr. Raghunathan, Dean of The National Management School in Chennai, India. The group’s visit was part of a two-week trip to the U.S. aimed at facilitating more U.S.-India collaboration in higher education.

· In April, a delegation of Indian state education ministers on a U.S. tour included stops at two Virginia colleges—Rappahannock Community College and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.

· The State Department is helping facilitate even more collaboration through its Obama-Singh 21st Knowledge Initiative, which recently funded a project on sustainable infrastructure development to be jointly led by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and Virginia Tech.

As you all know, Virginia Governor McDonnell went to India last November. Some of you may have in fact accompanied him. We know the natural synergies Virginia and India share in high-technology, but as Governor McDonnell’s meetings in India showed, our economic relationship with India is full-spectrum. Indeed, on his visit to Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore, Governor McDonnell discussed business opportunities in wine, film, agriculture, tourism and education. Virginia’s Economic Development Partnership now has two representatives who will represent Virginia in India.

We see great promise in these types of state-state and city-city linkages. Such delegations dovetail perfectly with our new initiative focused on accelerating the exciting linkages that already occur between our states and cities.

Similar to what we see in Virginia, think of all the innovative economic growth in Indian states like Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka and in Tier 2 and 3 cities like Nagpur and Ahmadabad. We are working to further enhance partnerships between these states and cities and their U.S. counterparts.

India’s smaller cities and towns are fast becoming the engines of the country’s economic boom. Businesses can help create an economic revolution in small-town India just as it did in the once-sleepy city of Bangalore.

As Ajay Banga, the CEO of MasterCard and recently appointed Chair of the U.S.-India Business Council said last week, “[w]e need to better understand each others’ cultures, which means getting out of Bombay and Delhi and going to places like Bhubaneswar, Patna and Lucknow.”

There is perhaps no country in the world with whom we have traveled faster and farther than India over the last ten years. While the extensive consultations we have on a government-to-government level are an essential part of our ever-expanding bilateral relationship, its heart, its core, is all of you – the incredible citizens and entrepreneurs of both countries.

We share with India a vibrant two-way exchange of entrepreneurs, executives, students, professors, and scientists that has come to serve as a model for others around the world. Our business ties have prospered. Our education and research partnerships have set the standard for innovation. Much of the potential of this partnership, however, still remains untapped.

Through both formal agreements and the hard work of our forward-leaning overseas diplomatic and economic corps, we in government will continue to play our part. We do not create or run businesses, but we can help create the connections and conditions so that entrepreneurs can take smart risks and businesses and investors can allocate capital efficiently

We see all of you as partners of choice in this endeavor. You know that facilitating more economic engagement with India directly benefits America’s bottom line. You also serve as key bridges to the Indian economy. Your local knowledge and networks can forge new and creative trade and investment links that benefit both our countries.

We look forward to continuing to work with you to meet the great promise of the U.S.-India relationship. Thank you for having me.

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