Obama's Remarks in Meeting with CEOs in Mumbai, India, November 2010
Published November 6, 2010
Speaker: Barack Obama
President Barack Obama gave these remarks at a meeting with CEOs in Mumbai, India on November 6, 2010.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, everybody, for joining us. I’m going to be very brief here today. This is partly because I’ve got a long speech that will immediately follow this.
But as I emphasized before I left the United States, one of the biggest priorities on this trip is to highlight the degree to which U.S. economic success, U.S. job creation, U.S. economic growth is going to be tied to our working with, cooperating with, establishing commercial ties with the fastest-growing economies in the world. And no country represents that promise of a strong, vibrant commercial relationship more acutely than India.
Obviously anybody who comes to Mumbai is struck by the incredible energy and drive and entrepreneurial spirit that exists here. This is a commercial town and this is a increasingly commercial nation. And it is so important for not just U.S. companies but U.S. workers to recognize these incredible opportunities and hopefully for Indian workers and Indian companies to recognize the opportunities for them as well.
So often when we talk about trade and commercial relationships, the question is who’s winning and who’s losing. This is a classic situation in which we can all win. And I’m going to make it one of my primary tasks during the next three days to highlight all the various ways in which we’ve got an opportunity I think to put Americans back to work, see India grow its infrastructure, its networks, its capacity to continue to grow at a rapid pace. And we can do that together, but only if both sides recognize these opportunities.
So rather than speak about these possibilities in the abstract, I’ve been having a terrific conversation with some U.S. CEOs who are already doing a lot of work here in India. I just had a chance to meet some young Indian entrepreneurs, as well as U.S. and Indian companies that are joint-venturing to take U.S. technology and apply it in new ways here in India, using new business and innovative business models.
But what I’m really excited about is the fact that we’re actually doing some business while we’re here. And so before I turn it over to some of the companies, I’d like Minister Sharma to just say a few words and thank him and the entire Indian government for the incredible hospitality that’s already been shown to me during the few hours since I’ve arrived, and I’m very much looking forward to the remaining days ahead.
MINISTER SHARMA: Thank you, Excellency, President Obama. I’m very privileged to welcome you on behalf of the government and people of the Republic of India. Your visit has a special significance, because after many missed opportunities in our engagement as two nations, there has been a historic embrace.
We watched with admiration your election, your commitment, your references to the values espoused by the father of the Indian nation, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement, and to speak for human dignity and the values associated.
Our two countries share a lot. And in the 21st century, there are expectations that these two countries, which have a shared commitment to democracy, to human rights, pluralistic society, multicultural, multireligious, multiethnic, can define the course, as the global architecture, political and economic, changes.
We welcome what you have said as you embarked for India about doubling the trade, but also increase jobs. By enhanced economic engagement both will happen. India has reached a stage where I can say not with optimism but without any hesitation that this is a country of limitless opportunities for your industry, for your investors to engage in.
At the same time, both our countries are fortunate that we have human resources. U.S. has institutions, U.S. has strengths in innovation, in high-end technologies, and it can be greatly rewarding for both our countries.
My Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and the chairperson of the ruling coalition, Sonia Gandhi, has specifically asked me to convey the warm greetings and welcome to you. We hope your visit will be a path-breaking one, clearly defining the road map of the cooperation between the two big democracies of the world.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you so much.
With that, what I’d like to do is to provide an opportunity for Jeff Immelt and Anil Ambani to talk about work that General Electric and Reliance are going to be doing together. And then I’ll turn it over to representatives of Boeing and SpiceJet to talk about the terrific partnership that they’re forging. These are two wonderful examples of how the collaboration and commercial ties between India and the United States are resulting directly in economic benefits in both countries and jobs in both countries.
So, Jeff, why don’t we start with you?
MR. IMMELT: Thanks, Mr. President. First, I’d like to say thanks for having all of us here today. All of us believe very much in the strategy of doubling exports in the next five years. We’ve all lived the world of globalization and know that it’s not a zero-sum game, that it creates jobs in the United States and also creates jobs in India.
We believe in the Indian market. We think that the coming years are going to represent great opportunity for India and that the U.S. should be a part of that. And so we’re quite excited to be here today.
There will be a trillion dollars -- a trillion dollars invested in infrastructure in India. The need is vast. My first trip to India was 25 years ago. There was a shortage of electricity. I’m happy to say, 25 years later, there’s still a shortage of electricity. (Laughter.) I view that as a business opportunity for GE, and we plan to capitalize on our share of that trillion-dollar opportunity in energy.
One of our big customers is Reliance Energy, run by Anil Ambani, one of the best-known Indian CEOs. In the case that we’re going to announce today or commemorate today is an order of 2,400 megawatts of gas turbine technology. This is the most modern technology to this date. It is manufactured in Greenville, South Carolina. This order will support 3,000 jobs in the United States in New York State and in South Carolina, among our thousands of suppliers. It’s the largest gas turbine order in the history of India.
Anil is in the lead of all of this as being one of the major power providers. It also provides for the Indian citizens clean electricity, availability to electricity, and we think it’s among the leading edge and will continue to drive growth in the future.
I know for a fact that Anil has even greater needs in the future for more gas turbines as well, and so I think this is just the first of many.
So we’re honored today to talk about this as a great export opportunity for GE. GE also creates many jobs in India and is committed to doing that in the future as well. And we are very proud to have a fine partner in Reliance Energy and in Anil Ambani.
So we’re quite excited. This is really a great win-win opportunity.
MR. AMBANI: Mr. President, thank you. I thank Jeff for his kind words. I think that Jeff effectively stole most of my speech -- (laughter) -- but what I want to bring to the attention of people around the table is with what we’ve embarked to do with GE and other U.S. companies in the power sector, we’ll effectively provide up to 10,000 jobs in the U.S. Jeff gave a number of 2,500, which is for GE, and the balance is for other U.S. companies that we are dealing with.
This would have not been possible if we didn’t have the support of the U.S. Ex-Im Bank and I want to put on the card the support from Fred and the rest of his team at U.S. Ex-Im.
Our order for 2,500 megawatts goal which represents to be the largest in India is still the tip of the iceberg. The power sector opportunity in India alone is $100 billion of capital
expenditure in the next five years. And it reminds me of a recent article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, which followed one of my visits to Shanghai last week, where we placed a $10 billion order on the Chinese companies.
These are two exclusive parts of growth -- the gas-based part -- we can work with GE and other U.S. companies. But the sky is the limit of future potential in terms of our cooperation.
We’re also deeply involved in other infrastructure areas in which we should get U.S. companies to come in and, of course, receive the support of U.S. Ex-Im. I still believe that I’m personally biased to the U.S. because I’ve been educated in the U.S. I went to the Wharton School, so that is a clear mental and personal bias towards dealing with the U.S. companies.
But saying that apart, I still think that your being here today is a strong signal for us in India. And you’ve chosen to come at a time which is Diwali, which was yesterday. And there could not be a more auspicious moment because we believe in astrology and palmistry -- and history. But our new year is tomorrow, so this is the best way to begin our new year to have you here as our valued guest and to make this announcement with Jeff.
Thank you so much.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much, Anil. I appreciate that.
MR. CHADWICK: Well, thank you, Mr. President. I’m fortunate to represent Boeing who has been doing business with India for 60 years now. Unfortunately, unlike Jeff I’ve only been coming here five years. But I’ve come 35 times in five years. (Laughter.)
And so what I’ve found is there are a lot of similarities between India and the United States. The culture is the same. The work ethic is the same. And we all believe in commercial collaboration and partnerships.
We’re here with SpiceJet today to commemorate a sale of 30 new 737 next-generation aircraft. We are proud as a Boeing company to be a partner with SpiceJet and all the employees of Boeing -- this is an honor for them.
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Kansagra.
MR. KANSAGRA: Thank you. Welcome, Mr. President, to India. As a fellow Kenyan, I’m very proud to see that you have made --
THE PRESIDENT: Made something of myself. (Laughter.)
MR. KANSAGRA: -- India as the focus of your drive for exports out of the U.S. To that effect, the 30 aircraft order, which is the second of such orders we have placed with Boeing, will enhance SpiceJet’s penetration into the Indian low-cost travel, low-cost transportation market, which really is the focus for SpiceJet.
Boeing has given us huge support together -- and Fred also has extended his assistance to finance our forthcoming aircraft in the next year. That support and that partnership will take SpiceJet and Boeing to greater heights. And your coming here to India today will only help that day further. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much.
So, just to summarize, just around this table you're seeing billions of dollars in orders from U.S. companies, tens of thousands of jobs being supported. We're a potential that has barely been scratched. And this is, I think, why folks back home in the United States need to embrace the possible partnership with India -- as a democracy, one that appreciates human rights and pluralism, one that has a entrepreneurial culture. We have an enormous possibility to partner with them for decades to come.
And by the way, it’s not just big companies that we’re emphasizing. We just had some terrific meetings with some start-up ventures. And I’ll just give a couple of examples. We have an Indian entrepreneur who has purchased water filtration equipment from a U.S. company. The U.S. company typically sold it to big plants around the country, but this Indian entrepreneur realized getting clean water is hard in India. And he’s actually set up franchises using the U.S. filtration equipment and franchised a hundred franchisees around the country where they're selling clean water at a very, very cheap rate.
It’s good for those communities. It’s good for the businesses. And it’s supporting jobs in the United States of America. We’re seeing examples of that all across the board, but we haven’t taken full advantage of these opportunities. And we need to.
On the Indian side, I just want to say to the people of India, every American businessperson who comes here is thrilled, Mr. Minister, with how rapidly India is growing and its increasing preeminence on the world stage. And I think that we want to place our bets with India as a strong partner. And that's true not only in the private sector, as you’ve already heard, but it’s true with the U.S. government, as well, which is why I’m so looking forward to spending time here over the next several days.
Thank you very much, everybody.