Obama on mission to sell more to India, create US jobs (Second Lead)

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Friday, November 5, 2010

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama Friday embarked on a history making trip to India focused on selling US goods and creating jobs in America with corporate deals worth billions of dollars.

“I won’t be satisfied until everybody who is looking for a job can find one,” he said in a White House statement before taking off on a 10-day trip to Asia, with the first stop in India’s financial capital of Mumbai.

“That’s why on this trip I am going to be talking about opening up additional markets like India so that American business can sell more products to create more jobs here at home,” said Obama who has set a target of doubling US exports in five years.

From Obama down, officials have held out prospects of significant announcements during his Nov 6-9 visit to what he calls an “indispensable partner of the 21st century” without spelling out the specifics.

Selling more abroad to create more jobs at home has been Obama’s consistent message for months, more so since voters unhappy over the slow pace of recovery gave his Democratic party what he himself called a “shellacking” in the mid-term elections.

On the India trip, “the primary purpose is to take a bunch of US companies and open up markets so that we can sell in Asia, in some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, and we can create jobs here in the United States of America,” he said Thursday after a cabinet meeting to take stock after the debacle.

“And my hope is, is that we’ve got some specific announcements that show the connection between what we’re doing overseas and what happens here at home when it comes to job growth and economic growth,” Obama said.

Officials are also at pains to temper Indian expectations about US support for permanent membership of the UN Security Council or easing of US export controls of high technology items to India with Obama calling it a very “complex issue”.

National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer though left out an opening saying Thursday, the two sides were “working through it” with Commerce Secretary Gary “Locke and others have been very engaged with our Indian counterparts, and so we’ll see where this ends up”.

More than 200 business leaders, including those from the Fortune 200 to small and medium enterprises, are making the trip to India for the Obama visit.

During his India visit, Obama will meet top US business leaders, including India-born Pepsico chairperson Indra Nooyi, to “discuss the opportunities and challenges of doing business in India,” according to the White House.

The business delegation meeting Obama will include Honeywell International Inc’s David Cote, who co-chairs the India-US CEO Forum with Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata, Boeing Co’s Jim McNerney, General Electric Co’s Jeffrey Immelt and Mcgraw Hill Companies’ Terry McGraw, who is also USIBC chairman.

Louis Chnevert, CEO of aerospace major United Technologies Corporation and Ellen Kullman, chief executive of chemicals giant DuPont may also be joining.

Trade between the US and India more than doubled to $37 billion in 2009 compared with 2003, according to US Commerce Department data. In the first eight months of 2010, total trade topped $32 billion, Commerce figures show.

Ahead of Obama’s trip, a major US trade association representing 300 top US companies doing business with India, has backed India’s aspirations for a permanent Security seat as also removal of barriers to high technology trade

Obama will be the sixth president to visit India after Dwight D. Eisenhower (December 1959), Richard Nixon (July 1969), Jimmy Carter (January 1978), Bill Clinton (March 2000) and George Bush (March 2006).

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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