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New US-India body sets target to strengthen bilateral cooperation 

US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), a breakaway group of US India Business Council (USIBC), a subgroup of US Chamber of Commerce, will aim to boost the Indo-US business relations which were under some strain following the H1B visa limit issues.

The new outfit has leading US firms like Cisco, PepsiCo and a few others as members. USISPF was formed following alleged differences in the US India Business Council. Last month, in an unprecedented move, the board of USIBC unanimously voted 29-0 to separate from the US Chamber of Commerce.

Formed as a non-profit corporation, USISPF aims to promote bilateral trade between India and the US and create “meaningful opportunities…”, the newly formed body said in a statement.

“Following the success of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s and President Trump’s meetings in the US in June 2017, I’m incredibly confident about the powerful partnership between the US and India, which is one that I believe can serve as a model for the rest of the world,” said John Chambers, executive chairman of Cisco and chairman of USISPF.

The body will work closely together with businesses and government leaders to achieve its goals of driving economic growth, job creation, innovation, inclusion and entrepreneurship, it added.

According to industry observers, this body could play the same role as Indian industry chambers FICCI and CII, but keeping the interest of US firms proposing to invest in India. Two other bodies, American Chamber of Commerce in India and Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, also work to promote Indo-US business relations and take issues with the respective governments.

USISPF’s board of directors will include chairman John Chambers (executive chairman, Cisco), vice-chairs Punit Renjen (global CEO, Deloitte LLP) and Edward Monser (president, Emerson Electric), and board members Indra Nooyi (chairman and CEO, PepsiCo), and Ajay Banga (president and CEO, MasterCard), the statement noted.

Others on the board include Susan Esserman (partner, Steptoe & Johnson), William Cohen (chairman and CEO, The Cohen Group), Purna Saggurti (chairman of global corporate and investment banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch), and Frank Wisner (international affairs advisor, Squire Patton Boggs), it added.

Mukesh Aghi will lead USISPF as president while Gaurav Verma will serve as chief operating officer.