American investors were urged to support India’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan at a conference of more than 100 business leaders gathered at the Consulate General of India in New York on Saturday to discuss the emerging nation’s public-private partnerships.
With such a large price tag on its five-year infrastructure plan, India has its work cut out in terms of attracting global funding to upgrade its roads, airports, seaports and power plants by 2017.
In a keynote address, retired U.S. Sen. Larry Pressler, R-S.D., drew parallels between the United States and India, saying the two nations are “messy” democracies facing similar problems as they compete in the global marketplace. Compared with the giant economic engine of China, the United States and India both struggle with issues inherent to democracies, such as land rights and eminent domain, Pressler said, noting that the two countries can help each other with trade agreements and internationalized financial markets.
“It’s hard in both India and the United States to get the right people to run for Congress or Parliament,” Pressler (left) said. “China doesn’t have to worry about getting the right people to run for office. Just a few people make the decisions there.”
Pressler’s speech comes at a time when American investors, worried about the economy at home, are considering a flight to quality overseas in emerging markets. The BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China are seen as especially appealing opportunities as their economies and middle-class consumer bases grow.
In the current political climate, the U.S. no longer has all the answers, said Pressler, who spent 18 years in the U.S. Senate and four in the House before retiring in 1997.
“I don’t go around preaching about how advanced we are, because things change,” Pressler said. “Look at where Brazil is now. We can learn from other countries.”
A New Twist: India Funds U.S. Infrastructure
In a new twist on the U.S.-India infrastructure story, the weakened U.S. is showing signs that it will rely more on India’s largesse in the future, much as India now relies on the United States. At the Consulate of India on Saturday, the Mumbai-based Essar Group of Companies received special recognition for funding an open pit mining operation in the northern Minnesota town of Nashwauk.
The $1.5 billion project, which is creating hundreds of U.S. jobs, is the biggest industrial project in decades on Minnesota’s Iron Range.
Around 24,000 metric tons of steel arrived on the Iron Range from India last spring, according to a local news report. Financing for the project came from India rather than U.S. banks because the company’s attempts to obtain financing from U.S. banks were shut out as lending tightened in the wake of the Great Recession.