By Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDBIZNews
More than 60 executives from Maryland and India gathered Tuesday in Baltimore to discuss business and economic connections between the state of 5.8 million and country of 1.2 billion.
The trip organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry follows a trade mission led by Gov. Martin O’Malley that shepherded more than 100 Maryland business leaders around India last fall.
The visits show the potential Maryland’s leaders see in India, and, likewise, the potential Indian companies see in Maryland.
“India has transitioned from an agriculture economy to a service economy and there’s a renewed focus on our manufacturing sector,” said FICCI President R.V. Kanoria, addressing the executives at the World Trade Center in Baltimore.
Kanoria, who met with O’Malley when the governor was in India, said he sees potential for collaboration with Maryland and companies here in many of the areas state officials and business leaders see as critical components of the growing, high-tech economy — education, clean energy, life sciences and cybersecurity.
“That’s the other thing that struck me about India, the innovation going on,” O’Malley said. “In our state, many of our strengths are strengths I know that India also has — biosciences, health care management, information technology, aerospace, defense, engineering services, just to name a few.”
The governor touted the intellectual and spending power of the federal and academic facilities in Maryland, the network of business incubators here and the highly educated workers that call the state home as assets for any business looking for a new base of operations in the United States.
“As a people, we have long understood that our economic opportunities are very much determined by the educational investments that we make,” O’Malley said.
India is already a large, and growing, trading partner for Maryland. Exports from the state to India have increased 70 percent over the last seven years, according to O’Malley.
Maryland shipped $252 million worth of goods there last year, according to U.S. Department of Commerce figures.
Kanoria said the total value of goods and services traded by the state and his country totaled $100 billion in 2011.
Maryland opened a trade office in India in 2009 and Kanoria said FICCI wants to open a counterpart in the state by the start of next year.
“One of the defining aspects of our character as Marylanders is that we, from our founding, have always been engaged with our neighbors around the world,” O’Malley said, looking out over the Inner Harbor. “This port, almost since our state’s founding, has been the center of trade of commerce… It is part of our DNA.”