From Wal-Mart to Starbucks: All lobbying hard to enter India
New Delhi: Aiming to grab a pie of India's robust economic growth, at least a dozen US-based corporate giants are lobbying hard with their lawmakers to help them enter or expand further in this fast-growing market.
The issues on which these companies are lobbying with the US government range from facilitating the market access to easing of foreign investment rules in India to help further expansion of their businesses here, show the lobbying disclosure reports filed by them with the US Senate.
These large US-based multinationals include the likes of the world's largest retailer Wal-Mart Stores, the coffee shop giant Starbucks and financial services majors Morgan Stanley, New York Life Insurance and Prudential Financial.
Besides, technology major Intel, chemicals major Dow Chemical, pharma giant Pfizer, telecom majors AT&T, Alcatel- Lucent, as well as defence and aerospace giants like Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are soliciting the support of the US government for furthering their Indian business interests.
In addition to these large corporates, there are numerous other smaller size companies seeking support from the US lawmakers to help them enter or expand further in India.
Together, these companies are estimated to have spent millions of dollars on their lobbying activities on various issues, including those related to their Indian interests.
Lobbying is a legal activity in the US, but the companies and their lobbyists are required to inform the US Senate about such activities through a quarterly disclosure report detailing the issues, the concerned government departments and institutions and the related expenses.
A host of Indian companies, including the country's biggest private sector company Reliance Industries, and even the Indian government, have also been lobbying in the US for many years to present their case with the American lawmakers.
India has emerged as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and a host of the companies from across the world, including from the US, are seeking to enter this market or further expand their business here.
Despite a global economic slowdown, countries like India and China have delivered an impressive growth.
The average annual growth rate for the lower-middle income countries such as India and China at about 7 percent in past 20 years has been more than three times that of the high-income countries like the US at little over 2 percent, as per the World Bank estimates.
However, the foreign investment ceilings in a host of sectors in India have come in the way of the US companies seeking to expand here, and they are seeking the help from their government to facilitate their expansion plans.
While some firms like Wal-Mart have been lobbying for many years with the US lawmakers to help them set up shop in India, a few others such as Starbucks and Morgan Stanley have also begun such activities recently for their India-related causes.
Starbucks, which runs the world's largest coffee shop chain, has been seeking an entry into India for many years, but it began lobbying on this issue in 2011 only, according to its lobbying disclosure report.
The company spent more than USD 200,000 on its lobbying in the first two quarters of 2011, on various issues including "market opening initiatives in India."
On the other hand, Wal-Mart has disclosed "discussions related to India FDI (Foreign Direct Investment)" as one of the issues in its lobbying with the US lawmakers in the first two quarters of 2011, during which it spent nearly USD 4 million on various lobbying activities.
Wal-Mart is said to be lobbying for opening up of multi-brand retail in India for foreign entities, who are not permitted at present.
Besides, many US-based firms are lobbying for further liberalisation of foreign investment ceilings in sectors like retail, insurance and other financial services segments.
Among other companies, the Dow Chemical Company is lobbying for market access in India, AT&T has lobbied for telecom trade in India, and Alcatel-Lucent has solicited support on the trade issues related to India.
Besides, financial services major Morgan Stanley, which is said to be interested in setting up a bank in India and is already present in a host of financial services segment here, has lobbied on issues like "US-India relationship."
The New York Life Insurance Company has lobbied on "issues related to Insurance Act in India, provisions related to cap on foreign investment", while Prudential Financial Inc has lobbied on "issues relating to India financial services market access and equity ownership issues."
The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association is also lobbying for bilateral investment treaties with India and market access issues related to this country.
On the other hand, pharma giant Pfizer has lobbied for "India IP (intellectual property) and market access issues" and the computer chipmaker Intel is lobbying on "World Trade Organization telecommunications commitments regarding the US telecommunications exports to India and the US Department of State policy toward telecommunications regulations in India."
Also, the Aerospace Industries Association of America has lobbied for issues related to the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement, Boeing has sought support on commercial aircraft sales in India, Lockheed Martin for "the US-India security relationship: and the Raytheon for the defense cooperation between the two countries.