The India-US CEO Forum was held in Washington on 22 June 2010. The Forum was reconstituted last year with 12 CEOs from India and the USA nominated by PM Dr. Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama respectively. This was the second meeting of the Forum, the first having been held in November last year on the sidelines of PM Singh’s visit to Washington. The CEO Forum is co-chaired by Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons and Dave Cote, CEO of Honeywell Corp.
2. The Forum was attended by eight CEOs from each side. There was very high level government participation from both sides reflecting the importance attached by both Governments. From the Government of India, the Forum was attended by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia. From the US side, there were six Secretary level representatives who included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, USTR Ambassador Ron Kirk, Director of the National Economic Council, Larry Summers and Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg.
3. The CEOs met in a smaller format, before interacting with the Government representatives. They presented recommendations to both Governments in four core areas viz., (i) Infrastructure; (ii) Clean Energy; (iii) Education and (iv) e-Health/Biotechnology. The Forum also discussed impediments and some breakthrough long term ideas.
4. The recommendations included some interesting and ambitious ideas such as creation of an Infrastructure Debt Fund of $10 billion for development of infrastructure in India, collaboration under the National Solar Mission of India, a long term initiative on diabetes research and treatment, linkages between educational institutions and joint research in clean energy, including bio-fuels.
5. To follow up on the ideas, Finance Minister announced that a Committee headed by the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission would be formed in India to carry forward the ideas with implementable action plans.
6. CEOs from both sides and representatives of the two Governments agreed that there was tremendous potential and synergy in the economic partnership between India and the US. The forthcoming visit of President Barack Obama to India would provide an opportunity to intensify the economic engagement and translate some of these ideas into deliverables.
7. Finance Minister also had a meeting with his counterpart, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and discussed bilateral issues and the outlook for the global economy. They also discussed the euro-zone crisis and how this would impact on the global economy. They discussed issues relating to fiscal consolidation and FM suggested that fiscal exits could be staggered and be country specific, depending on market conditions in each country.
8. Commerce & Industry Minister Anand Sharma separately met USTR Ron Kirk and discussed issues relating to India-US trade relations. Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia met US Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack to discuss progress in India-US Agriculture cooperation.