WRAPUP 1-Obama arrives in India eyeing jobs for America

By Alister Bull and Patricia Zengerle

MUMBAI, Nov 6 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. President Barack Obama flew
into India’s commercial capital on Saturday aiming to boost
ties and seal big-ticket business deals to secure jobs and
exports days after voters punished his Democrats in mid-term
elections.

Obama will also visit Indonesia, South Korea and Japan on a
10-day tour that will see Washington push to prevent countries
unilaterally devaluing currencies to protect their exports, a
top theme at the Group of 20 heads of state meet in Seoul next
week.

In Mumbai, Obama’s first stop will be the luxury Taj Mahal
Palace and Tower Hotel, where he will pay respects to the
victims of the 2008 attacks at one of the primary targets of
gunmen who slaughtered 166 people.

One of the first diplomatic tests for Obama will be at the
Taj. Indians will want a strong statement against Pakistan for
fostering militants, but Washington must tread a fine line
between appeasing New Delhi and supporting its regional ally.

Across town, police have removed coconuts around Mani
Bhavan, where Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi stayed
while in Mumbai and which now serves as a museum that Obama
will visit on Saturday.

He will then attend a meeting with hundreds of U.S. and
Indian business leaders. He arrives in New Delhi on Sunday.

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For more on Obama’s travels [ID:nSGE69P0D3]

Obama to push trade, FX issues [ID:nSGE69Q0H2]

Busy agenda on Obama’s four-nation trip [ID:nN03241439]

US exports top Obama priority [ID:nN27254192]

Economic issues at heart of trip [ID:nN01162255]

For a TV debate: http://link.reuters.com/taj24q

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Obama’s Saturday-to-Monday trip to India started just four
days after his Democratic party sustained big election losses
tied to the weak economy, raising some doubts over how much the
trip can yield given the pressures at home.

But Obama clearly outlined that his goal was to strike
“billions of dollars in contracts that will support tens of
thousands of American jobs”, and stated his intent to “reduce
barriers to United States exports and increase access to the
Indian market”.

“It is hard to overstate the importance of Asia to our
economic future,” Obama wrote in an opinion piece in the New
York Times on Friday.

“It can be tempting, in times of economic difficulty, to
turn inward, away from trade and commerce with other nations.
But in our interconnected world, that is not a path to growth,
and that is not a path to jobs. We cannot be shut out of these
markets.”

TOUGH SELL

On the agenda will be lucrative defence ties. The United
States has held more military exercises with India in the past
year than any other country, and U.S. firms Boeing (BA.N: ) and
Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N: ) are bidding for a $11 billion deal
for 126 fighter jets.

But first, Obama will have to counter Indian perceptions he
has relegated Asia’s third-largest economy behind rivals China
and Pakistan and has not recognised its growing global weight.

Washington faces a host of hurdles, including Indian
worries that signing defence pacts — which are necessary for
the U.S. arms sales to go through — may land New Delhi in a
wider entanglement with the U.S. military.

A civil nuclear deal with the United States was signed in
2008 to great fanfare, but it struggled through parliament and
now the accord has sparked criticism that U.S. companies in the
sector will be discouraged to invest due to high liabilities.

Also, an increase in U.S. visa fees, a ban on offshoring by
the state of Ohio and the Indian IT industry’s portrayal in
campaign publicity as a drain on U.S. jobs have set a frosty
tone in India.

“It has become so difficult to process visas these days and
that is hurting us a lot,” said Siddesh Apraj, an employee of
India’s second-largest outsourcer, Infosys Technology Ltd.
(INFY.BO: ).

Obama will also push for greater access for U.S. companies
to India’s market of 1.2 billion people. But given the
political opposition in India to moves such as modern retail
that could open to the market to firms such as Wal-Mart
(WMT.N: ), a quick decision was unlikely.

A sign posted by the Congress of All India Traders near the
Mani Bhavan proclaimed on Friday: “Retailers welcome President
Obama in India but not foreign direct investment in retail.”
(Additional reporting by C. Bryson Hull and Nandita Bose in
MUMBAI; Writing by Krittivas Mukherjee; Editing by Alistair
Scrutton and Alex Richardson)

WRAPUP 1-Obama arrives in India eyeing jobs for America