Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
February 2007
Focus on India for Export Growth

More and more Wisconsin firms are viewing India as an export destination rather than just a source of technicians or an outsourcing location. In order to build a network of resources that can be called upon by Wisconsin exporters, Stanley Pfrang of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce's International Division participated in a trade mission to India that was organized by U.S. Department of Commerce November 29-December 5, 2006. The 238 business participants from 186 companies or organizations made the mission the largest ever organized by the agency. Participants came from 35 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, with 68 percent of the businesses being small firms. Half of the participants had never visited India before. In addition to attending the three-day US-India Business Summit in Mumbai, most participants chose at least one of five other major cities to visit as part of spin-off delegations. Pfrang spent his extra days in New Delhi meeting with government officials and leaders of national business organizations.

Jennifer Thompson, Director of International Planning and Policy at Oshkosh Truck, attended the summit and had this to say about the Indian market; "[The trip] provided a good setting to meet with U.S. government officials able to assist with our exports and also yielded productive opportunities to talk with potential customers. I experienced first hand the significant infrastructure challenges present and learned that there must be much patience and persistence in a successful business venture. However, India is a rapidly growing part of the world economy and holds much potential for U.S. companies; the business climate seems very warm and there is much enthusiasm to work with Americans."

Several themes were brought up repeatedly during the visit:

  • India started its reform process in 1991 and while Indians recognize that it has been a slow process (and still has further to go), they are also confident that it is irreversible.
  • India is very cognizant that it is competing with China, but the country's leaders are confident in their advantages. It was repeatedly stated that "China is an easy market to enter, but it is difficult to operate there for the long term. India may be a difficult market to enter, but the rule of law makes it an easy place to operate once you get established."
  • Indian business and government officials kept stressing that the natural cooperation between India as the world's largest democracy and the USA as the oldest large-scale democracy will lead to positive economic growth based upon the freedom and entrepreneurial spirits of both countries.
  • India recognizes that its infrastructure is inadequate. Issues of power generation and distribution, water, port facilities, and highways are priorities of the federal government and are creating opportunities to sell U.S.-made equipment. Unfortunately, the divisions of responsibility and financial resources between the central and state governments are hampering efforts.
  • Indian businesses are ready to invest in the United States in order to build sales here. Last year was the first time that Indian foreign direct investment in the United Kingdom (UK)exceeded UK investment in India.

"India is not a journey for the faint hearted, or for those who expect overnight success," said the U. S. Ambassador to India David Mulford in his address to summit participants. "You will need a strategy - a long term view - patience, and persistence. But one of the world's great markets is here." India is Asia's fourth-largest economy and has grown at an average of eight (8) percent in the last three years. As of September 2006, India was the #18 export destination for Wisconsin. Shipments there were up 25 percent over the previous year.

-- Stanley Pfrang

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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