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India Trade Mission Attracts Record Number of Participants

The largest-ever U.S. government business development mission is set to head for India next month, with participation from a wide range of industries.

With more than 95 companies accepted as of October 1, 2006, the Commerce Department’s upcoming business development mission to India will be the largest such event ever organized by the U.S. government.

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Merchandise awaiting shipment at the port of Chennai, the
Merchandise awaiting shipment at the port of Chennai, the "Detroit of India." Chennai is one of the cities that participants in the upcoming business development mission to India will have the option of visiting. (Photo courtesy Port of Chennai)


The multicity mission is scheduled from November 29 through December 5, 2006. The visit will begin in Mumbai (Bombay) with attendance at a two-day business summit hosted by the government of India and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Franklin L. Lavin, under secretary of commerce for international trade, will lead the mission participation in the summit. Interested mission participants will then attend concurrent spin-off missions for business appointments in any of six cities: Bangalore, Chennai (Madras), Hyderabad, Kolkata (Calcutta), Mumbai (Bombay), and New Delhi.

“India’s economy is booming. The time is right for U.S. companies to visit and start to figure out how they can fit into the picture,” said Lavin. “It should be no surprise that this is an unprecedented trade mission, because India, at the moment, is undergoing unprecedented growth.”

Trade mission participants represent a wide range of industries, including plastic mold manufacturers, medical equipment manufacturers, food and beverage providers, insurance companies, and many others.

Expanded Ties and Growing Opportunities

This trade mission comes at an opportune time for U.S. companies wishing to enter the Indian market. The economic relationship between the two countries is growing. In March 2006, during a state visit to India, U.S. President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed to an expanded economic relationship. The Commerce Department has responsibility for the commercial aspect of that relationship, and further progress was made in May 2006 when Lavin went to India and held follow-up visits with Indian Secretary of Commerce S. N. Menon and other government officials. (See the April 2006 issue of International Trade Update.)

A Vibrant Economy

With a population of more than 1 billion and a burgeoning consumer class of more than 200 million, India has been identified by the Commerce Department as a “spotlight” market for U.S. exporters. After a long period of stagnant economic growth, India is now growing. Since 1994, India’s gross domestic product has posted gains of at least 7 percent a year. Liberalization and deregulation of several key sectors of the economy, such as telecommunications and aviation, have potentially opened those areas and other markets to U.S. firms.


For More Information

The application period closed on October 2, 2006, for participation in the spin-off missions to individual Indian cities. But U.S. companies interested in participating in the two-day Mumbai Business Summit have until October 27, 2006, to apply. For more information on the summit, go to Even if your company cannot participate in the India visit, Commerce Department trade specialists can provide you with all the tools and help you need to succeed in India. For more information, call 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723) or go to and locate the U.S. Export Assistance Center nearest you


On the Itinerary: A Look at Two Indian Cities

As part of the spin-off missions to six cities, Kolkata and Chennai are two that will be visited by participants in the India business development mission. Here is a look at the economies of these two cities, as well as the opportunities there for U.S. companies.

Kolkata: From Capital of British India to Trade and Business Center

On the eastern shore of the Bay of Bengal, you will find one of India’s most important trading and business centers: Kolkata. For almost 150 years, Kolkata (also known as Calcutta) was the capital of British India, which encompasses modern day Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. The city has retained its British heritage in its architecture and in the cultural outlook of many of the more than 14 million people that live in the metropolitan area.

Kolkata has an international airport and one of India’s most important commercial ports, which serves as a point of embarkation for many of India’s exports. The city is an important financial hub, with the Calcutta Stock Exchange and the United Bank of India headquartered there. Kolkata is also an important center for both traditional and high-technology industries. For companies interested in the leather, jute, and jewelry industries, Kolkata is the place in India to visit.

The information technology sector is growing at 70 percent a year, and Kolkata is the center of India’s Bengali-language film industry—nicknamed “Tollywood”—that is second only to the Bollywood films produced in Mumbai. Shoe company Bata India and consumer goods firm ITC Limited are two major companies with headquarters in Kolkata.

Chennai: Textiles, Electronics, and the “Detroit of India”

Chennai is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu and is home to more than 42 million people. For more than 200 years, Chennai has been known as a trading center and a gateway to southern India, with a well-developed port and a major international airport.

Chennai is better known to many as Madras, especially to those people who are familiar with the madras cloth that was made famous during British rule. Chennai retains its status as one of the premier cloth and textile centers in Asia.

In addition to traditional industries such as textiles and food processing, Chennai is also becoming known as the “Detroit of India,” with Ford, Hyundai, and Mitsubishi manufacturing outside the city for the local Indian and export markets. It is also a center for electronics manufacturing, with Nokia, Motorola, and Flextronics having major production facilities. Other promising sectors include chemicals, petrochemical processing, pharmaceuticals, education, entertainment, financial services, renewable energy, safety and security, and environmental technologies.