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US agency seeks Indian tie-up

December 14, 2004 12:55 IST

Conference Board, the private body appointed by the US government to produce indices of leading economic indicators, is scouting for an Indian partner to jointly churn numbers on India. The body is now in advance stages of releasing similar data on China.

Speaking to Business Standard, Gail D Fosler, executive vice-president and chief economist of Conference Board, said: "The Indian economy is growing rapidly and multi-national companies want to have a deeper understanding of it while Indian companies want a broader knowledge of various regions of the world. Against this backdrop, we want to start releasing economic indicators on India."

Conference Board is on the lookout for an Indian economic research firm, which has a good reputation, strong intellectual curiosity and has demonstrated measurement capabilities.

Besides, it must have an interface with the business community. "Such an organisation can be chosen to partner with to produce economic indicators," she said.

Fosler had held discussions with the National Council for Applied Economic Research about two years ago when Rakesh Mohan was heading it but things are yet to crystallise.

"I expect things to take shape in India in a year. We could even develop India to be a central hub from where we analyse economic data on various other regions," she said.

Fosler believes things will take off faster in India than it did in China. This is because of a high penetration of English and better data capabilities in India vis-a-vis its neighbour.

Fosler is now in Mumbai on a two-day visit to conduct one of the board's quarterly briefings to its corporate members in India. Reliance Industries is hosting today's briefing in its boardroom on 'India Vs China -- benchmarking the challenges'.

India Inc has 30 members on the Conference Board, the likes of Reliance Industries, Aditya Birla group, ONGC, ICICI Bank, Dr Reddy's, Tata Chemicals and Infosys Technologies, said Poonam Barua, regional director -- India, Conference Board.

The world's leading research and business membership organisation has more than 60 per cent of Fortune 500 companies as its members.

In addition to the US, the Conference Board produces monthly leading economic indicators for the UK, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Spain.

Components of indicators include: average work hours of production workers in the manufacturing sector, manufacturers' new orders, consumer goods and materials, the number of residential building permits issued, retail sales, indexes of consumer expectations and industrial production, commercial loans, and consumer debt and income.

On the lookout

Poornima Mohandas in Mumbai
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