Obama and India FDI

Indian Protesters burning FDI poster at demonstration
Indian Protesters burning FDI poster at demonstration

New Orleans President Obama continues to sightsee and glad hand his way across India on his sales trip for US business interests, soft shoeing around the issue of jobs being outsourced to India, even as he argues to the US press that by meeting his sales quota over there, he will create jobs over here.  What’s really up on the subcontinent?  Thanks to ACORN International’s Dharmendra Kumar who directs our Delhi operations and the work of the India FDI Watch Campaign, which has long been one of our signature efforts in India, we have a pretty clear view.

Dharmendraji shared a report filed by Maulik Vyas Maulik in Sunday’s Economic Times on Obama’s remarks to Mumbai business leaders:

President Barack Obama today said India should lift restrictions on foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail, saying old concerns that small shopkeepers would be impacted ignore today’s reality.

Mr Obama, while addressing the US India Business Council summit in Mumbai on Saturday, Obama flirted with the issue that raises bogey in India by saying, “Here in India, many see the arrival of American companies and products as threats to small shopkeepers and to India’s ancient and proud culture. But these old stereotypes, these old concerns ignores today’s reality.”

“Going forward, commitment must be matched by steady reduction to barriers in trade and foreign investment from agriculture to infrastructure and from retail to telecommunications,” he said.

Those present including commerce minister Anand Sharma and planning commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia would have surely taken note of the US President’s hint that opening up the retail industry among others could mean better bilateral trade between the two countries.

A “hint” from POTUS is hardly persuasive and simply saying that restriction on FDI for multi-brand retail “ignores today’s reality” is hardly going to change the debate in India or sway any opinions one way or another in the Parliament.  If this was the boost that business was hoping to get from Obama, they were definitely left holding a big fat hot air bag.

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