Locke to lead US hi-tech trade mission to India

By: Lalit K Jha
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Washington, Feb 3: US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will land in New Delhi this Sunday at the head of a hi-tech trade mission focused on breaking down barriers for American businesses through meetings with top government and corporate officials over the course of his six-day visit.

The trade mission, comprising 24 companies from 13 states, is the first visit by an American Cabinet Secretary to India since US President Barack Obama came calling in November, 2010.

In addition to government and corporate officials, Locke will also meet senior personnel of the Department of Atomic Energy and Nuclear Power Corporation of India. Furthermore, he will hold talks with the top bosses of ISRO -- which was recently removed by the US from a list of entities to be denied access to sensitive technologies.

What is more, he is scheduled to pay a visit to the dabbawallas (tiffin caterers) of Mumbai.

The delegation, which also includes senior officials from the Export-Import Bank (EX-IM) and US Trade Development Agency (TDA), will make stops in New Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai.

Locke is expected to highlight export opportunities and efforts to break down tariff and non-tariff barriers for US businesses in the advanced industrial sector, including areas like civil-nuclear trade, defence and security, civil aviation and information and communication technologies.

Locke accompanied Obama on his India visit in November, during which more than USD 10 billion worth of business deals were inked between US companies and Indian private sector and government entities, supporting 50,000 American jobs.

Last week, the Department of Commerce took the first steps toward implementation of the export control policy initiatives announced by Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November.

"It was a significant milestone that will reinforce the US-India strategic partnership, strengthen global non-proliferation efforts and facilitate high technology trade and cooperation," a Commerce Department release said.

"The mission will help build on the exporting success US companies had in 2010 -� up 17 per cent compared to the same period in 2009," the press statement said.

The upcoming India visit will mark Locke''s second trade mission as Commerce Secretary. In May, he led a clean energy business development mission to China and Indonesia.

The US Commerce Department said Locke will participate in a kick-off event with members of the business delegation on Sunday in New Delhi.

The next day, he is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at a luncheon hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). .

On February 7, he is also scheduled to meet Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

From New Delhi, Locke and his team will travel to Bangalore for a two-day, on February 8 and 9, where he will attend the Aero India show -- a major international military aviation trade show -- where the US pavilion will have its largest presence to date and will be the largest foreign presence at the show.

Locke will be joined by US Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency''s Director, Vice Admiral Bill Landay III; and Andrew Shapiro, the Assistant Secretary of Political-Military Affairs at the US State Department.

He will also visit Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), India''s premier aerospace manufacturing company, to see first-hand how US partnerships with HAL are contributing to India''s aviation industry and generating high value jobs in both countries, the Commerce Department said.

On February 9, Locke will hold a town hall style event with students at the Indian Institute of Science, focused on innovation and the knowledge economy and attend a bilateral meeting with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Locke will then move to Mumbai, where he will deliver remarks at a luncheon hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry on February 10.

He would also deliver a keynote address on the same day at the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) India Leadership Forum 2011 and meet with Indian CEOs from the US-India CEO Forum.

On the last day of his India trip on February 11, Locke is slated to visit Mumbai''s dabbawalas to learn about their unique logistics operations to deliver home-cooked food to thousands of people daily, which has been cited as a model of entrepreneurship and supply chain management at the grassroots level.

In addition, Locke will attend a bilateral meeting with Reserve Bank of India Governor D Subbarao and attend a joint bilateral meeting with the Department of Atomic Energy and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India.


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