U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson concluded his five-day business development mission to India with a stop in Mumbai on March 30, the commercial center of India. The visit to Mumbai, focused on promoting tourism for Indian citizens who want to visit America, as well as exploring opportunities for U.S. companies to promote their technologies and services in India’s rapidly expanding infrastructure sector to support job creation in both countries.
Bryson had the opportunity to participate in the official launch of the Visit USA Committee India, a public-private partnership whose sole mission is to promote and increase travel and tourism from India to the United States. VUSACOM members include travel agents, tour operators, service providers, and U.S. product representatives. In 2011, the United States had a $2.2 billion surplus in travel and tourism from India, and total spending by Indians traveling to the U.S. was almost $4.6 billion in 2011, up 15 percent from 2010. In addition, the number of Indian travelers to the U.S. reached a record 663,000 in 2011.
“Travel and tourism to the U.S. is an important way for us to expand our commercial ties and ensure balanced trade growth between our countries,” said Bryson. “Under President Obama’s leadership, we are working closely with America’s travel and tourism industry to encourage more travel from countries like India to the U.S., and with the help of Visit USA, we will do everything we can to build on the record number of travelers – 663,000 – from India to the U.S. last year.”
In addition to meeting with government officials in Mumbai, Bryson hosted a luncheon with companies that help finance infrastructure projects as well as a roundtable with companies that are involved in energy-related infrastructure projects. In both, he talked with U.S. and Indian business leaders about the importance of the U.S.-India commercial relationship and he encouraged development of new business opportunities between the members of the delegation and their Indian counterparts. He also talked about the great progress India has made in opening its markets to U.S. companies, but encouraged continued consultations to resolve issues such as market access barriers and intellectual property protection.
Bryson was joined this week by three other U.S. agencies: the Export-Import Bank, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. On March 29, the board of directors of OPIC, the U.S. government’s development finance institution, voted to approve $250 million in financing to help India’s Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation expand its lending to renewable energy projects – including solar, wind and energy efficiency – as well as infrastructure projects overall. This financing will provide much-needed long-term capital in these high-potential areas.
The trade mission, which included visits in New Delhi and Jaipur, provided an opportunity for Bryson to focus on two of his main priorities as commerce secretary – helping U.S. businesses export goods and services and encouraging investment in the U.S. Bryson said the 16-company trade delegation made real steps towards laying the groundwork for both of those initiatives, in addition to encouraging Indian tourists to visit the U.S. and strengthening the bonds between the governments, the businesses and the people of India and the United States.