Foreign Policy Blogs

Jobs, Trade & Commerce Dominate India Trip

Trade and commerce dominates US-India foreign policy.

Trade and commerce dominates US-India foreign policy.

us-india-flag-image1In yet another display of the increasing role that financial, trade and economic policy holds in US foreign policy, President Obama in the first leg of his Asian tour announced a host of new trade deals with India supporting tens of thousands of US jobs as he began a 10-day trip through Asia. Demonstrating the importance of global trade to the sluggish US economy, the President told a meeting of US and Indian executives that the US would relax some export regulations that have complicated trade between America and this fast-growing emerging market of 1.2 billion consumers. “As we look to India today, the United States sees the opportunity to sell our exports in one of the fastest growing markets in the world. For America, this is a jobs strategy,” the president said in a speech to the US-India Business Council. Obama said it should be a “win-win” relationship with India, but in a nod to US sensibilities he also acknowledged voter concerns in the US about corporate outsourcing of good-paying American jobs. “There still exists’ a caricature of India as a land of call centers,” the President said.

President Obama also acknowledged that people in India are concerned about the impact of US goods coming into their country, but contended that growing trade could only benefit both sides in the long run. He said he sees huge untapped potential in the relationship, noting that India doesn’t even rank among America’s top 10 trading partners. “There is no reason this nation can’t be one of our top trading partners,” the president said. To that end he said the US would seek to reform export controls that resulted from past administrations’ concerns about India’s nuclear industry. The changes, which have been much sought-after in the business community, include relaxing controls on India’s purchase of so-called “dual use” technologies that could be used for civilian or military purposes, and removing a few of the last remaining Indian companies on a so-called “entities list” of groups that face restrictions on doing business in the US.

The commercial deals he announced include the purchase of thirty-three(33) new 737 airplanes from Boeing by India’s SpiceJet Airlines – a publicly traded foreign share I hold in my portfolio. In addition, the Indian military plans to buy high-performance jet engines from General Electric; and preliminary agreement between Boeing and the Indian Air Force on the purchase of ten  C-17 military cargo planes. Officials said these transactions would support 53,670 existing American jobs, and generate new jobs in the US that would be created as a result of finalizing the trade deals.

President Obama – acutely aware of being falsely perceived as anti-business by corporate America – said that after the elections he wanted to change that perception. Consequently, much of the presidential trip appears  to be focused on that objective. Before speaking to business leaders, he met separately with some of them, letting reporters look on as he tied his mission to driving job creation at home, and proclaimed the importance of working closely with high performing emerging markets such as India. The White House also arranged for four American CEOs – who are also in India for the deal close – to brief reporters traveling with the President. They talked up the importance of India as a trading partner and praised Obama’s decision to come to the country to underscore that point in person.


us-india-trade-figures1Obama addressed the business leaders shortly after arriving in Mumbai, where his first stop was at the Taj Mahal hotel to commemorate the 2008 terror attacks that killed 166 people across the city. The President said he intended to send a signal by making Mumbai the first stop of the trip and by staying at the Taj, which was a target during the terror siege. “The United States and India stand united,” he said, “We will never forget.”  After his remarks on the terror attacks, Obama visited a museum in a home where Mahatma Gandhi once lived. Obama was spending three days in India, his longest stretch yet in one country, a point that American officials have been careful to emphasize as they play up the administration’s interest in nurturing the relationship. On Sunday he heads to New Delhi, the capital, where he will address India’s parliament – the equivalent of the US Congress.

Next on his Asian tour, Obama is scheduled to travel to Indonesia, where he lived for several years as a youth. Then from there, he heads to South Korea for a much-anticipated meeting of the G-20, and then to Japan for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation — a forum promoting Asian-Pacific free trade and economic cooperation — before returning to Washington on 14 November, a day before the start of Congress’ ‘lame duck’ session. 

Source:  Associated Press, Reuters, The Guardian (London)



Elison Elliott

Elison Elliott , a native of Belize, is a professional investment advisor for the Global Wealth and Invesment Management division of a major worldwide financial services firm. His experience in the global financial markets span over 18 years in both the public and private sectors. Elison is a graduate, cum laude, of the City College of New York (CUNY), and completed his Masters-level course requirements in the International Finance & Banking (IFB) program at Columbia University (SIPA). Elison lives in the northern suburbs of New York City. He is an avid student of sovereign risk, global economics and market trends, and enjoys writing, aviation, outdoor adventure, International travel, cultural exploration and world affairs.

Areas of Focus:
Market Trends; International Finance; Global Trade; Economics