US secretary of state John Kerry on Monday gave a thumping endorsement to PM Narendra Modi’s efforts to resuscitate the Indian economy.
Kerry, on a two-day visit to India leading the largest ever contingent of over 100 captains of industry from the US to the 7th Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit, listed a four-point agenda — climate change, defence, civil nuclear energy and cooperation on anti-terrorism measures — on which the two countries are expected to work together. The issues are expected to figure prominently in the interaction between US President Barack Obama and Modi during the former’s trip to India to participate in Republic Day celebrations — the first time ever that a US president has been invited to grace the occasion.
“Under Modi, it has become clearer for American companies to invest in India,” said Kerry. “We will work towards Modi’s vision to supply 24×7 electricity to India. We are committed to work with India to reach a landmark climate change agreement in Paris at the end of this year.”
“He(Obama) is excited to be the chief guest at the function (Republic Day) and the fact that he is the first US president to visit India twice during his term says a lot about the values both countries have placed on the criticality of the relationship,” he added. “The goal is to have concrete and tangible things we can show forward movement on when President Obama and PM Modi meet, including on climate change.”
It is believed that Modi and Kerry discussed bilateral ties, progress of economic relations and the President’s visit for around 30 minutes after the inauguration of the summit on Sunday. “I think the PM has made it clear that he wants to move rapidly to make things happen in India,” the US secretary of state said.
He said US investment in India has gone up from $2.4 billion to $28 billion, as did India’s investment in the US, from $3 billion to $9 billion.
Kerry also praised the summit where he met a number of CEOs and business leaders and got “an opportunity to gain significantly from growing US-India relations”.
…drops in at Ford’s Sanand plant
US state secretary John Kerry on Monday paid a whistle-stop visit to US automotive giant Ford Motors’ upcoming facility in Sanand, which is likely to begin commercial production in the near future. Ford is investing $1 billion in Gujarat for building its manufacturing plant, which will supply cars not only to India but also for export. Ford had signed an MoU with the Gujarat government during Modi’s chief ministership in 2011.
The US major had chosen Gujarat over Tamil Nadu because the latter no longer has surplus electricity as it did in 1996 when Ford built its plant in Chennai. The Sanand facility will double Ford India’s installed manufacturing capacity to 610,000 engines and 440,000 vehicles, between Chennai and Sanand facilities. The Sanand plant will have an initial annual production capacity of 240,000 cars and 270,000 engines.
The facility also has high level of automation, and is one of its most automated car manufacturing plants across Asia Pacific and Africa region.