Second Annual India Leadership Summit & Other High Level Engagements
Dr. Mukesh Aghi
President and CEO
Contact Sukanya Sen
The month of October saw high-level engagements in Washington DC, New York, and New Delhi— starting with an interaction with Minister of External Affairs, Dr. S. Jaishankar, a roadshow with SEBI Chairman, Dr Ajay Tyagi across three cities, followed engagements with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Moving on to New Delhi, we hosted our board meeting, followed by the second Annual India Leadership Summit, and bookended the flagship event with a meeting with Prime Minister Modi.
I am also delighted to announce a new addition to the USISPF Board— Sumir Chadha, Co-founder and Managing Director of WestBridge Capital. Sumir is one of the most recognized names in the industry with extensive experience in investing in Indian companies and will be taking an active role in USISPF’s capital markets initiative.
The India Leadership summit in New Delhi attracted nearly 400 attendees that included global CEOs, Cabinet Ministers and Secretaries of the Government of India, US Government officials, former Ambassadors, academics and think-tanks, and members of the national and regional press. (Some key press coverage is included here: CNBC TV 18, Business Standard, Economic Times, LiveMint, ThePrint)
The overarching themes emerging from the summit included growing U.S.-India bilateral trade and other areas of strategic partnership such as defense, energy security, and technological innovation. We were also honored to host briefings on the sidelines of the summit with Ambassador Ken Juster and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal to update our members on the current state of bilateral ties.
During all sessions of the summit, there was an overwhelming support from the business community to conclude a U.S.-India trade deal and position India as the innovation hub for the world.USISPF also released a report on Coal Gasification. This paper was done in collaboration with IHS Markit on the Prime Minister’s request, outlining the economics and regulatory framework of the coal gasification industry.
Other Policy Updates
India Climbs 14 places in World Bank’s Doing Business Report : Last month, India climbed 14 places in the World Bank Doing Business Report 2020 – now ranked 67th out of 150 countries. India was also listed as one of the top 10 economies that improved the most in their ease of doing business score— making trading across borders easier by cutting the costs and time associated with border and documentation requirements; resolving bankruptcy on the back of the government implementing the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code; and making it easier to obtain construction permits. With several other reforms in place this year— reduction in corporate tax rates, roll back of angel tax on start-ups, among others, India now has a real opportunity to break into the list of top 50 countries in the Doing Business ranking. Access the full World Bank report here.Special Investment Desk for India’s North Eastern States: Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal has announced a special investment desk for India’s North Eastern states to drive the Government’s overall effort to promote investments in the country and raise the standard of living for citizens. Read full press release here.
India’s State Elections: Less than six months after the general elections of 2019, two major states Maharashtra and Haryana held elections where the BJP faced a tough electoral contest. Key outcomes include: in both states, BJP’s seat tally has reduced since 2014. In Maharastra, the BJP secured 105 seats with Shiv Sena securing 56 seats, giving the alliance an absolute majority in the Maharashtra assembly.In Haryana, the BJP has cobbled up a coalition government with the help of the newly formed Jannayak Janta Party led by Dushyant Chautala. Manohar Lal Khattar took oath as the Haryana chief minister for a second term and will lead the BJP-JJP (Jannayak Janata Party) coalition government in the state. JJP leader Dushyant Chautala took oath as his deputy, a day after the governor invited him to lead the alliance that also has the support of seven Independents. Another politically important state- Jharkhand- is scheduled to go to polls in early 2020.
Trade: Our latest analysis of US-India bilateral trade (include link) shows that bilateral trade has grown by 8.4% in 2019, with both exports and imports witnessing an upward trajectory. US-India trade has also matured significantly, moving from traditional items (jewelry, textiles) to mineral fuels, high-tech goods, machinery & industrial goods. However, the so-called mini-deal is yet to be announced. The U.S. is signaling the deal will be of “modest size” with some tariff liberalization and non-tariff trade barriers addressed. Trade in services, including digital issues and insurance, is still contemplated to be tackled in a yet-to-be-defined bilateral forum that would unfold after the conclusion of the mini-deal. On a related note, India has decided not to join the RCEP trading bloc that includes 10 ASEAN nations as well as China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, with Prime Minister Modi stating that “India has significant outstanding issues, which remain unresolved”.
Cyber: The bilateral Cyber Dialogue and ICT Working Group meetings were held in New Delhi at the beginning of the month. The governments discussed UN cyber-related security issues, 5G and law enforcement access to data in the government-only discussion. The ICT Working Group agenda included a discussion of GOI’s intentions regarding data flows. Industry and USG raised the new non-personal data experts group and was told by MeitY officials the meeting would be an open consultation.
Cloud Procurement: MeitY has updated its guidelines for government (state and central) procurement of cloud services. The update follows the initial 2015 guidelines, under which Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) were initially empaneled in 2016 and 2017. The documents provide guidelines to government IT purchasers and are instructive to CSPs now seeking empanelment or extension of an existing empanelment. From a policy perspective, the data storage requirement, initially included in the 2015 RFP, has been continued in the current documents. Government Cloud documents can be found at: https://meity.gov.in/content/gi-cloud-meghraj
Enterprise customer telecom license: TRAI has concluded its Other Service Provider License (OSP) consultation, passing its recommendations to the Department of Telecommunications for adoption. You can find the recommendations here and the summary begins on page 66. (Link here). The OSP license designation was originally designed to protect telecommunications service providers from call center operators mis-using their facilities. It was subsequently extended to the ITeS industry and all back office processors. It now effectively captures almost every type of enterprise service including cloud, advanced conference platforms and even CRM platforms.