MUMBAI, INDIA — There are cultural and national security aspects to President Obama’s 10 day, 4-country swing, but coming off the rough midterm elections where voters registered their economic discontent, the president is emphasizing the jobs he hopes this trip will create
President and First Lady Obama partook in some Hindu folk dancing a Holy Name High School earlier today, almost as if they were characters in a big Bollywood blockbuster. Later at a local college the president took some questions at a town hall. When he arrived on Saturday, the president remembered the victims of the Mumbai terrorist attacks two years ago this month, and visited the Gandhi museum.
But the real mission of this trip was underlined at the US-India Business Council Summit when the president announced deals between us and indian companies totaling near $10 billion in us exports — more than 50,000 jobs in the US.
“Boeing — one of America’s largest companies — is on track to sell India dozens of commercial and cargo aircraft,” he said. "General Electric, another American company, will sell more than 100 advance-jet engines.”
Coming off what he called the “shellacking” of the 2010 midterms, fueled largely in his view by economic anxiety, the president made trade — specifically US exports sold to India, and Indian investments in the US — front and center.
“What I’m really excited about is the fact that we’re actually doing some business while we’re here,” the president told a room full of CEOs.
At the Summit he said of the need to open markets to US goods, “for America, this is a jobs strategy.”
Some economists remain quite skeptical given Asian nation trade barriers and policies that encourage us companies to outsource jobs
“There’s not whole lot President Obama can do about outsourcing to China and India until he stands up to those countries regarding their currency policies and their trade barriers,” said Peter Morici of the University of Maryland.
White House officials say that’s one of the points of the trip – for the president to push Asian leaders on currency policies and trade barriers. The Obama administration announced, for example, that the U.S. will de-list the three Indian space and defense-related entities from the list of companies the US requires to pursue specific license requirements to receive US exports, allowing greater cooperation in these areas. In South Korea, the Obama administration will work on resolving outstanding issues around the South Korea Free Trade Agreement.
There’s a larger strategic goal here that the White House doesn’t talk about: a stronger India could serve as something of a counterbalance to China.
- Jake Tapper