A top American business advocacy group representing US companies having footprint in India has decided to part ways with the all-powerful US Chambers of Commerce, accusing it of undue interference in its work, a media report has said. In an unprecedented move, the high-profile Board of the US India Business Council (USIBC) unanimously voted 29-0 to separate from the US Chambers of Commerce, which is the world’s largest chambers of commerce, The Washington Post reported. USIBC’s board members include some of the top names in the American corporate world like Indira Nooyi of Pepsico, Ajay Banga of Mastercard and John T Chambers of Cisco.
USIBC, which was formed by the US Chambers of Commerce at the request of the then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1975, in its board meeting decided to function as an autonomous body and move out of the historic US Chambers building across the White House. The US Chambers of Commerce, which according to the paper fired USIBC president Mukesh Aghi alleging that he was not reporting to it, has said that the USBIC has no authorisation to decide its pathway of separation. The US Chamber of Commerce president Thomas J Donohue in a letter to USIBC Board Members said that the group cannot separate from it without its concurrence.
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Donohue described the USIBC as a “programme” with “no autonomous existence outside of the US Chamber,” the daily said. “The USIBC has no separate existence and its board has no legal authority,” Donohue said, adding that the Chamber would continue to operate the programme and “will not consent to the demands of a group of disaffected individuals”. As of Friday morning, the USIBC website had removed the name of Aghi as its president and has named Khush Choksy as acting president.
The USIBC plunged into crisis soon after its highly successful annual event which was addressed by US Vice President Mike Pence on June 27. “A member of the USIBC board said that Donohue was unhappy that the USIBC invited Vice President Pence to a meeting because Donohue wanted to invite Pence to a different event,” the report said.