India’s Modi Tells U.S. CEOs his Country’s Modernization Offers “Win-Win” Partnership

President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shake hands while delivering joint statements in the Rose Garden of the White House.

As China’s economy starts to ease following years of breakneck growth, business can at least take heart from India’s continued emergence as a major magnet for foreign investment.

That progress was hailed yesterday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during at a meeting in Washington with 21 American CEOs, including Apple’s Tim Cook, Google’s Sundar Pichai, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Walmart’s Doug McMillon.

Little is known publicly about what happened during the meeting, but reports so far suggest it went well—or perhaps better than Donald Trump’s summit with U.S. tech CEOs last week, which produced a highly-circulated photograph of Cook, Bezos and Nadella looking far from impressed.

Cook said the meeting with Modi was “fantastic” while Bezos pledged to keep investing in India. “Terrific meeting with @narendramodi. Always impressed, energized by optimism and invention in India. Excited to keep investing and growing,” he said on Twitter.

“Terrific meeting with @narendramodi. Always impressed, energized by optimism and invention in India. Excited to keep investing and growing.”

The event came a day before Modi is due to meet with Trump, where he is expected to raise the thorny issue of the administration’s proposed curbs on skilled migration.

Modi told the CEOs yesterday that India had attracted record volumes of foreign investment over the past three years, partly thanks to his government’s introduction of around 7,000 regulatory reforms. Among others in attendance were the heads of Caterpillar, Cisco, Deloitte, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin and MasterCard.

“The whole world is looking at India [who’s] growth presents a win-win partnership for India and the U.S both. U.S. companies have a great opportunity to contribute to that,” Modi said, according to a post on Twitter by External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay.

Modi also said the country’s looming introduction of a goods and services tax, or GST, “could be a subject of studies in US business schools”.

American companies have been encouraged by the government to help India reach its economic goals, including building smart cities, expanding e-commerce and moving towards a cashless society, according to the the U.S India Business Council.

“India is on an unprecedented growth path, boosted by Prime Minister Modi,” PayPal’s chief technology officer Sri Shivananda said in a statement last month. “The vision of the government to make India a less cash, digitally empowered society and leading digital economy is commendable.”

The world’s seventh-biggest economy, , however, still has some way to go before satisfying concerns from foreign investors about its opaque regulatory environment and gaps in its skills mix.

India ranks 130th out of 190 in the World Bank’s 2017 report on the ease of doing business globally, scoring poorly on factors including paying taxes and starting a business.

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Ross Kelly
Ross Kelly is a London-based business journalist. He has been a staff correspondent or editor at The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance and the Australian Associated Press.

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