US India Business Council leaders launch new forum on India-US ties

Source: LiveMint.com, Aug 03, 2017

Two weeks after the US India Business Council (USIBC), an American business advocacy group, decided to part ways with the US Chambers of Commerce, USIBC leaders on Wednesday floated a new forum aimed at improving strategic ties between Indian and the US.

“Today, we are going to talk about strategic partnership between two countries not as a transaction but as a potential model…,” John T. Chambers, executive chairman of Cisco and chairman of the newly formed body, said in an interview.

Chambers said the body, the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), will be focused on promoting ties between India and the US in areas around economic growth, job inclusion, innovation and education.

PTI on 14 July reported that USIBC had parted ways with the US Chambers of Commerce, alleging undue interference in its work. The high-profile USIBC board voted unanimously (29-0) to separate from the US Chambers of Commerce, the world’s largest chamber of commerce.

USIBC’s board members included some of the top names in the American corporate world such as Indira Nooyi of Pepsico, Ajay Banga of Mastercard, and John T Chambers of Cisco.

These three leaders, along with Punit Renjen, Global CEO, Deloitte LLP and Edward Monser, president, Emerson Electric—who will be the vice-chairman of USISPF—have joined the new body.

Banga and Nooyi, along with Ambassador Susan Esserman, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson, Secretary William Cohen, chairman and chief executive of the Cohen Group, Purna Saggurti, chairman of Global Corporate & Investment Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Ambassador Frank Wisner, International Affairs Advisor, Squire Patton Boggs, are board members of USISPF.

“(The idea is to)… bring the power of all these companies for their programmes and to work with the governments and the citizens to really change a new generation society. That is a game changer and it has to be one on one…,” Chambers said.

Mukesh Aghi, former president of USIBC, will lead USISPF as its president and Gaurav Verma will serve as chief operating officer. The body is funded by its members in the form of membership fee and additional donations.

“Every company that we asked for upfront donations, they all gave it,” Chambers said, adding that USISPF has complete support from various governments and political parties, in both the US and in India.

“They tend to trust us. The governments seem to trust us. We have complete support from all the political leaders regardless of political parties,” he said.

“Remember two years ago, I said US’s most strategic partner in the world should be India and India’s most strategic partner in the world should be the US, and people looked at me… and now all of a sudden they are saying it can happen…,” Chambers said.

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