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Largest US trade mission to participate in Mumbai Summit

November 21, 2006 09:51 IST

US Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Franklin L Lavin, who will lead the largest American trade mission to India ever has said the delegation besides several senior administration officials will comprise 238 business leaders representing 186 companies. The delegation will be in India to participate in the India Business Summit in Mumbai on November 28.

Once the summit gets over the spin-off missions will visit Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad or New Delhi.

Lavin said that "with US export growth to India in excess of 24 per cent in 2006 and sustained annual Indian economic growth of 8 per cent, the time is ripe for American companies to look for business opportunities there."

"The goal of the mission is to position US firms for long-term business success in this fast growing market so we can expand our exports and create more American jobs," he said.

Total US exports to India in 2005 were $7.9 billion, an increase of 30 per cent over 2004. Through September 2006, US exports have grown 24.3 per cent over the same period last year, the Commerce Department said.

Lavin said that the mission was the direct outcome from a commitment by President George W Bush to elevate Commercial Dialogue during his March 2006 visit to India.

"India is now at a transformational time in its economic development and the economic reforms India has made in the last few years have seen an improved business and investment climate."

However, he said that "there is much more that can be done and I will use this mission to continue our Commercial Dialogue with India to knock down barriers to trade and investment."

Before he met the media on Monday afternoon, Lavin speaking to the US-India Business Council, said that while the Department of Commerce "has worked hard to build this mission," if it were not for "India's strong economy and increased openness, we would not have seen this historic level of response."

"With this mission we are bringing the best of American business to meet with the best of Indian business," he said.

Lavin noted that "the participants in the mission come from every sector and corner of America," and spoke of the small entrepreneurs who would be participating "alongside some of America's leading companies," and the sectors would range from software to entertainment, consumer products to food and beverages and insurance and finance to energy.

"It's a delegation as diverse as the US economy, but what the members have in common is an interest in the Indian market - a market full of potential, but with its share of challenges as well," he said.
Aziz Haniffa in Washington DC