It’s a lovefest in India, but Obama was more generous last time around

A spit handshake?
A spit handshake?
Image: Reuters/Jim Bourg
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Barack Obama talked up economic ties on his visit to India this week. But he didn’t put his money where his mouth was.

“We do about a $100 billion a year in trade with India, which is a great improvement since I took office,” Obama said at the India-US Business Summit in New Delhi, with some 500 business leaders in attendance, “but we do about $560 billion a year with China.”

And having chided China a week earlier in his State of the Union for wanting “to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region,” Obama offered India a role in writing those rules instead. “We can grow and we can prosper together,” he said, standing side-by-side with his new best friend, prime minister Narendra Modi, “and establish a set of global norms in terms of how business is done that will benefit not just our two countries but people around the world.”

Yet for all that talk, there was little in the way of investments. Obama promised all of $4 billion (Rs 24,600 crore) in investments and lending deals. Here’s the breakdown:

  • $1 billion in financing from the US Export-Import Bank to support “Made in America” exports to India
  • Another $1 billion from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation for lending to small and medium businesses in underserved rural and urban markets
  • $2 billion from the US Trade and Development Agency for renewable energy

By the standards of the largess that world leaders have recently shown to India—and even by Obama’s own—that’s not a lot:

And that’s without counting Russian president Vladimir Putin’s $100 billion worth of commercial contracts signed last December.

But Obama still has a half-a-day left in India, before he jets off to meet the Saudis. Maybe he’ll impress us with a big deal in the next few hours.