When top US corporate executives met on May 27 with Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar under the auspices of the US India Business Council (USIBC) and the US Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) in Washington, while acknowledging the magnitude of India’s second wave. the coronavirus pandemic, most of its questions and concerns focused on India’s role in the global economic recovery.
Free from partisan views and aware of the current situation on the ground, they looked beyond the gross number and assessed the economic outlook after the second wave. Most agreed with the minister’s view that given that the closures were local and intermittent and that supply chains were intact, their impact would be much less than last year. According to diplomats who asked not to be appointed, they had a keen interest in the government’s efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible to get the economy back on track.
Among those attending the meeting were: Ariel Mactavish, president of Medtronic Respiratory Inc; Ken Gilmartin, executive vice president of Jacobs Engineering Group; Arvind Krishna, President and CEO of IBM; Raj Subramaniam, president of FedEx; Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture; and Seifi Ghasemi, President and CEO of Air Products.
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U.S. CEOs talked about similar U.S. experiences last year. Many pointed to the logistical effort made by India, especially in the supply of oxygen. They stressed that India played a key role as a global vaccine hub in restoring global economic confidence. Apart from the resident population, their large number of expatriates and service personnel, including merchant carriers and airline crew, were relevant globally. Many American companies also had large personnel based in India, whose health was critical to their operations. CEOs also believed that as the vaccine momentum accelerates, connectivity and interaction between the two business communities will be completely restored.
By Sunday evening, India had fully vaccinated 44.4 million people and partly vaccinated 123.1 million, meaning that nearly 18% of the eligible population of 940 million (over 18 years). On Monday, the Indian government told the Supreme Court that the country would vaccinate all members of the age group by the end of December, which will require a sharp acceleration to 7.75 million doses administered per day for the rest of the year. year.
Interestingly, many CEOs provided positive insights from their own company’s comments on the economic recovery. Experts have noted that while the start of the second wave coincided with the return to normalcy of the economy, the fact that most states have ensured that manufacturing and other business activities have continued through localized closures. it can mean less impact. RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said on May 5 that the problem of adding demand due to the second wave was moderate and that interruptions in manufacturing were minimal compared to the first wave due to measures of localized containment. And most national and international forecasts expect the economy to grow even more than 10% in 2021-22.
In fact, it was seen as such, as the focus was on India, which hosted more supply chains, to put the world economy at risk. In particular, EAM was asked in detail about PLI (performance-linked initiative) plans to expand manufacturing. Many participants talked about their plans to invest more next year. There was a particularly strong interest in the electronics, digital and healthcare manufacturing sectors.
Washington’s political circles also favored, diplomats added, with the Biden administration assuring India of full support in medical systems and equipment, even as they tried to address New Delhi’s concerns about Indochina. Pacific, as the QUAD group was prioritized now. With regard to China, it has been widely noted that the May 19 meeting between the U.S. and Russian Foreign Ministers led to a US-Russia summit on June 16 in Geneva, while the US-China March 19 meeting between foreign and domestic ministers security advisers ended in a slang match. India is a natural beneficiary of better ties between the United States and Russia.