Obama in India: Agenda and Expectations
Obama to Visit India, and Both Sides Hope to Expand Ties
By Vikas Bajaj and Heather Timmons
MUMBAI, India — As President Obama pays his first visit to India this weekend, he may want to take his lead from Mary Kay.
Since Mr. Obama took office two years ago, America’s top economic policy makers have visited India numerous times but left with little to show for their long flights. This time, too, officials on both sides have tried to temper expectations, given the geopolitical and trade tensions between the two nations.
But, even without a big policy push from Washington, companies from both countries have already been forging deals at a fast and furious pace.
American brands as diverse as Mary Kay cosmetics, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Cinnabon sticky buns have recently set up shop or expanded in India, often with local partners helping them navigate this country’s notoriously convoluted bureaucracy. Meanwhile, American corporate giants like General Motors and the drug maker Bristol-Myers are expanding factories, sales outlets and research laboratories in India.
As a result of such moves, American exports to India in the first six months of 2010 hit $14.6 billion, up 14 percent from the period a year earlier and nearly five times what it was a decade earlier.
Corporate America mainly hopes the visit by the president, with more than 200 American executives in tow, can help better define the common economic interests of the United States and India and build on the trade and investment foundations the business community has already laid.
“Business had been leading the way from the very beginning,” said Ron Somers, the head of the United States India Business Council, a business advocacy group. Now, Mr. Somers said, “we want to crown that with a genuine strategic partnership.”
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President Obama's Asian Agenda - Jayshree Bajoria, Council on Foreign Relations
Obama Is Not Likely to Push India Hard on Pakistan - NYT
Obama Heads To India - NPR
Obama's India visit may be more style than substance - Reuters
Symbolism in Obama’s India visit worries Pakistan - Dawn
Managing Expectations as Obama Heads to Asia - Vishakha Desai, Asia Society