India’s first US Business Center opens in Mumbai

As global corporations focus on expanding footprint into emerging markets in search of growth opportunities, the direction most are headed is leading to India. While the country has seen an influx of foreign multinational corporations (MNCs) from Europe and Asia Pacific regions establish presence and capture market share, experts are of the view that there is still a lot of unexplored potential. And with American president Barack Obama keen to expand cross-border trade with India, there is a lot of interest among US firms that have begun exploring business opportunities here.

With a view to aid such companies, the first-ever US Business Center (USBC), a custom-built facility designed to house new and early-stage US entrants to the India market, was launched in Mumbai on Thursday.

“American companies have been getting lot of inquiries from Indian buyers and distributors who connect with them at various global trade fairs. However, while on one side they are concerned about the credibility of such inquiries, they are also not able to effectively follow up on the business opportunities in hand,” said Adrian Mutton, founder and CEO, US Business Centers.

Led by market entry specialist Sannam S4 Inc and supported by the US-IBC, Citi India and Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, the USBC initiative, according to Mutton, will play a key role in aiding the United States and India achieve the target of $500 billion in cross-border trade and investment.

However, there are certain concerns in the minds of US firms in terms of making an entry into the Indian market. While large corporations tend to use their management bandwidth and other resources to figure out the process, the real challenge is with the smaller firms that don’t have such resources handy.

“We are currently helping 40 US companies foray into the Indian market and there are another 24 firms in the pipeline. The client mix is a combination of large corporations, universities and, small and medium-size firms operating in sectors like auto, manufacturing and fast moving consumer goods,” said Mutton.

Commenting on his interactions with US firms, Mukesh Aghi, president, US-India Business Council, said, “I always tell them (US firms) if you don’t move in fast into an emerging market that is set to grow for the next over 20 years, the vacuum will be filled by companies from Europe, Japan, Chinese and Korea. And with every business looking for attractive returns on investment, India certainly presents that advantage and opportunity.”

In fact, citing a council survey, Aghi was recently quoted in a media report saying, “We expect 52 US companies to invest $27 billion in India this year and next year, in addition to $15 billion by 20% of our member companies since Narendra Modi assumed office.”