New York, Oct 19: Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty left for New Delhi Wednesday at the head of a 73-member trade delegation to bolster bilateral commercial ties with the country.
The aim of the mission is to provide a means for Minnesota business leaders to explore opportunities in India and promote increased exports to India and to develop and expand strategic relationships with key India and United States organisations.
The delegation will travel to New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai from October 20 to October 27, for a series of market and industry presentations, networking events, roundtable discussions and one-on-one business events with potential Indian customers, distributors and partners.
In each of these cities there will be an evening networking reception in honor of the Governor that will be attended by local government and business leaders.
According to Tony Lorusso, executive director of Minnesota Trade Office, "Our interest in India is multifaceted. We are interested in India because it is the fastest growing country globally. There are fewer economies that are growing at 9 per cent GDP growth in recent years and obviously that kind of growth obviously turns into many opportunities from which Minnesota can benefit."
Lorusso was quoted by rediff.com as saying that "There is also a pro-western environment that favors US firms we think and then India has a such a huge young population and these are some of the reasons we are looking at India."
The website quoted Pawlenty as also saying that his mission will stop in China to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Minnesota's sister-state agreement with Shaanxi Province. During the visit to Shanghai, Pawlenty will visit China's only Best Buy store, where he will present computer equipment donated by the company to a school in Minnesota's sister-province. He will participate in an opening ceremony at the Shanghai Best Buy, the company's first store in China and their largest store in the world.
Asked about investment in infrastructure, one of India's top priorities, Lorusso was quoted as saying that Minnesotan companies are absolutely interested in environmental projects or airport projects.
"There are several companies in the environmental sector that are going in this mission. They have a lot of interest in the infrastructure sector in India as well," he said.
Minnesota sent a small delegation to India ten years ago led by a commissioner. Although since then there has been no trade mission to India, there has been good bilateral trade.
Minnesota's exports to India in the last ten years or so has increased 370 per cent and that compares to a 145 per cent for US growth to India.
Indian-owned companies in Minnesota include Suzlon [ Get Quote] Wind Energy Corporation in Pipestone, Patni Computer Systems [Get Quote ], Inc., Wipro Ltd [ Get Quote], and Natural Stone Inc. Suzlon has been ranked as the fifth-leading wind turbine manufacturer in the world and its wind turbines are used at 12 wind park sites in southwestern Minnesota.
Minnesota Trade Office noted that India's gross domestic product grew an average 7 per cent per year between 1994 and 2004 and recently has tracked at nearly 9 per cent. U.S. manufactured exports to India reached $6.8 billion in 2005, an increase of 111 per cent since 2000. Minnesota's manufactured exports to India grew 208 per cent to $85 million over the same period.
"India's middle class is 300 million people and growing by 5 per cent per year. That's a huge segment of the population that has increasingly more money to spend on consumer goods," Lorusso said.
The promising sectors include computers and electronics, machinery, medical products, biotechnology, and food processing. In addition, Indian companies have ambitious plans for expanding and diversifying manufacturing activities, particularly in the automobile, auto parts, metals, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and electronics industries, creating opportunities for Minnesota suppliers.
Among those who are accompanying the delegation include Senator Satveer Chaudhary and Gopal Khanna. The delegation with meet with the Confederation of Indian Industry as well as Wipro leadership.
Governor Pawlenty will be accompanied by First Lady Mary Pawlenty. In addition to participating in business events on the mission, the First Lady will also devote her time to raise awareness of humanitarian and social causes in which Minnesotans are involved. Some of the programs involve providing hope to Indian orphans, training and resources for the disabled, and advancing healthcare for children.