South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley off to India to attract foreign investment

US Governor Haley Official Portrait

Washington, Nov 8 (IANS) South Carolina’s Indian-American Governor Nikki Haley will lead a 10-day trade mission to India in November, hoping to attract more foreign investment and sell the state as a tourist destination

The Nov 12-22 trip is intended to make a “first impression” that sells South Carolina as a tourism destination and a place to do business, local newspaper The State reported citing an official.

Haley, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York in September, was cited by the State as telling reporters Thursday that she did not know what to expect from the trip.

“But when I met with the prime minister, we had a lot of conversations.”

Haley said she sees opportunities in pharmaceuticals, automotives and agriculture.

“There’s a lot that India is doing very well that they now want to start investing in the United States,” she said.

“That’s really where my goal is: where can I get them to invest and do more of those things.”

India is South Carolina’s 16th-largest trading partner, according to state Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt.

Last year, the state’s exports to India were valued at $352 million, up from $110 million in 2005, ranking South Carolina 14th in the nation for its exports to India.

US exports to India have increased by 127 percent since 2006, outpacing the growth in all other foreign exports combined, which only grew by 50 percent during the same time period.

The trip’s schedule is “nothing short of gruelling” with 90 planned meetings and events, including 40 on Haley’s itinerary, Hitt said.

State Commerce officials have travelled to India four times in two years to prepare for the trip, but Haley’s visit will garner media attention there, he said.

The trip next week is a chance for South Carolina to make a “first impression” on India businesses and commerce officials, Hitt said.

“This is our way of pushing out a message that we’re serious about our relationship with India.”

South Carolina economic development organizations such as the Upstate Alliance, The LINK Alliance and the S.C. Power Team, as also companies interested in exporting goods to India will join the trip.

Hitt said state officials are keying in on the Indian manufacturing and pharmaceutical sectors while there, hoping to tap into an “emerging” market.

While in India, Haley will address several business organizations and, with Duane Parrish, state Parks, Recreation and Tourism director, pitch the state as a tourist destination to several India-based travel media.

A group of state legislators also will attend the Aeromart Summit, an international business summit for the aerospace industry.

Haley will travel to New Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Mumbai and Chennai. Others in the delegation will travel to New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai, Hitt said.

The trip marks the second time Haley has travelled to her parents’ homeland that she last visited when she was 2 years old.


VOICE adds:

Haley was elected to represent the 87th district in Lexington County in 2004 when, as a virtual unknown, she beat the longest serving state legislator in a Republican primary.  In 2008, then-Representative Haley was sent back to the Statehouse with 83 percent of the vote – the highest percentage earned by any lawmaker facing a contested South Carolina election that year.

She went on to win the Republican Party nomination for governor on Tuesday, June 22, 2010.

Born in Bamberg, S.C., the daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley’s first job was keeping the books for her family’s clothing store – at the age of 13. She graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor of science degree in accounting and, following her graduation, worked as Accounting Supervisor for a private company and five of its subsidiaries. She then returned to the family business and helped oversee its growth into a multi-million dollar operation.

Haley and her husband Michael, a full-time federal technician with the South Carolina National Guard and an officer in the Army National Guard, attend Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church in Lexington.

They have two children, daughter Rena, 16, and son Nalin, 13.