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CEO meet: PM Modi hardsells Make in India

Participating at India-US CEO Forum meet on Monday evening, Modi said, “The scale of our dreams are huge and so are the opportunities that India offers. It helps to know how investors feel about how the government should work.”

The Prime Minister, who thanked industry captains for flagging several issues, said, “Consistency in policy would solve many problems. The solution to all your problems is pro-people, good governance. The government is taking initiative to ensure ease of doing business.”

Addressing the 30-odd CEOs of US and India, Obama, on his part, extended an assurance saying there was “natural convergence” between the two countries and added, “I am excited that not only is the US investing in India but a lot of Indians are investing in the US.”

After interacting with the CEOs, the two leaders addressed a larger business gathering. Business is a key agenda on Obama’s three-day trip to India, with the US, the sixth largest investor in India, targeting a five-fold increase to 500 billion dollars in two-way trade by 2025.

“Modi and I are interested in smart regulation,” said Obama, saying he wanted to see more trade between the two countries. Modi’s pet initiative “Make in India” was a key thrust of talks at the CEOs meeting, with discussions on creating the right atmosphere for massive bilateral business cooperation, particularly in the light of the US being a major potential source of manufacturing investments.

Among the five CEOs who spoke for two minutes each at the meet, Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) Chairman and Managing Director Dinesh K Sarraf talked about India-US not having a free-trade agreement (FTA) hampering import of liquefied natural gas (LNG). India is seeking long term assured supply of natural gas from the US at competitive prices to meet its energy needs but Washington bars sale of LNG to nations with which it does not have FTA.  Sarraf also raised the issue of Indian firms attracting US sanctions for investing in third countries like Russia and Iran.

The ONGC is yet to enter into US upstream sector as it fears for its investment given the fact that it has business in many countries which may fall under restrictions due to change in geopolitics.

Other CEOs, who raised their point at the meet, include State Bank of India Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya, BHEL head B Prasada Rao, ICICI chief executive Chanda Kochhar, HDFC’s Deepak Parekh, Sunil Mittal of Bharti Enterprises, etc.

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