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PM Modi makes investment pitch at Washington meet with CEOs

About 20 CEOs of global multinationals are meeting PM for the CEOs Round Table at the Hotel Willard Intercontinental. Photograph: (WION)

WION Web Team Washington, DC, United States Jun 25, 2017, 03.57 PM (IST)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his official engagements in the US with a meeting with the country's top CEOs in Washington on Sunday.

Google's Sundar Pichai, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Apple's Tim Cook and Adobe's Shantanu Narayen were among those in attendance at the roundtable of 20 heads of companies that took place at the Hotel Willard Intercontinental.

The Indian PM made a pitch for investment by US companies in India, highlighting India's growth and reforms such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST). He said American companies had a "great opportunity" to contribute to India's growth, a "win-win partnership for both countries".

"The Indian Government so far has carried out about 7,000 reforms for ease of doing business in the country and provide for minimum government, maximum governance," PM Modi said.

He also addressed their concerns over the economic climate in India after demonetisation and his "Make in India" initiative.

The CEOs expressed their support for PM Modi's Make in India, Digital India, Start Up India and other flagship initiatives, India's external affairs minister spokesperson Gopal Baglay wrote on Twitter.

"CEOs outlined priorities in India and suggestions for mutually beneficial partnerships in line with inclusive growth. They reaffirmed their commitment to growing with India and attest to its attractiveness as FDI destination. They lauded the PM's initiatives of demonetisation, digitisation of the economy and the GST," wrote Gopal Baglay on Twitter.

"They also applauded the reform measures and steps taken by the government to improve ease of doing business," the external affairs ministry spokesperson added.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the PM was looking for insights on how India could attract more foreign investment and that "many good ideas" were discussed during the meeting. 

"I think everyone is excited to invest more in India and I am excited as to what we all can do together. The PM was looking for insights into how India can attract more foreign investment, many good ideas discussed," the Google CEO said.

"It was very good, it was a discussion across many industries," Sundar Pichai added after meeting PM Modi at the CEOs roundtable.
 

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In his concluding remarks, PM Modi stressed the importance of cooperation between the two countries for start-ups, innovation and for tapping the immense potential that India has for intellectual, educational and vocational training. He also pointed out opportunities for tourism through developing hotels through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model at 500 railway stations.

The Indian PM will now interact with members of the Indian community over lunch at the Washington DC suburb of Virginia. (Also Read: Modi in US : Cheering Indians greet Indian PM with 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai')

PM Modi landed in Washington DC on Sunday morning for his much-anticipated meeting with US President Donald Trump on Monday.

Counter-terrorism, defence partnership in the Indo-Pacific region, trade and law enforcement are expected to be the focus of Modi-Trump talks, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said earlier.

Hours after arriving in the US capital, Modi thanked Trump for his “warm welcome” and said he looks forward to meeting him.

Modi will be the first world leader to have a working dinner with Trump at the White House on Monday.

"We are really seeking to roll out the red carpet," an official told AFP. 

The two heads of state are likely to build on growing ties and move beyond disagreements over climate change.

The US is expected to give its approval to the supply of 22 Guardian drones for the Indian Navy which was previously opposed by the Obama administration.

Officials, however, have downplayed expectations of the visit, describing it as "no frills", AFP reported. This, however, is in contrast to Modi's first US visit in 2014, when he received a rousing welcome at the Madison Square Garden arena in New York and addressed the UN.

Trump's protectionist instincts are at odds with India's efforts to boost exports and encourage Western manufacturers to "Make In India" -- a flagship Modi scheme. A proposed overhaul of H-1B visas -- used by thousands of Indian software engineers to work in the United States -- has also caused concern in New Delhi.

Trump earlier accused India of seeking to profit from the Paris climate accord as he announced he was pulling out of the deal this month. New Delhi retaliated with a sharp denial.

Regional security is expected to be high on the agenda for the talks as Washington considers deploying up to 5,000 extra troops in Afghanistan to help local forces fighting the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

The new administration has also indicated it could take a tougher stance on Pakistan, which India has long accused of harbouring militant groups.

Relations between the world's two largest democracies had warmed under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama as India sought greater foreign investment and trade ties.

Modi and Trump have spoken to each other thrice over the phone since the US President took charge in January this year.

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