The Indian ambassador to the United States, Meera Shankar, met with 40 Bellevue business leaders on Oct. 16 at a luncheon to discuss increased trade and cultural exchange between India and the United States.
Bellevue is in the running for a Pacific Northwest consulate requested by India through the U.S. State Department. Other West Coast consulates for India are located in San Francisco and Vancouver, B.C.
Shankar spoke to the group on the impact stronger trade relationships between India and the United States could have on international relations as well as helping to establish Bellevue as a center of international trade. She stressed that India, even in the recent global downturn, had a 6.7 percent growth in GDP last year following an average of 9 percent GDP growth over the previous 4 years.
“In today’s global economy, it is more important than ever to build personal, respectful international relationships,” said Peter Pental, a native of India and the owner of Pental Granite and Marble. “I have seen it in my own business. Having the government of India right at our back door could open tremendous opportunities for my business and others in this region.”
Shankar also discussed a number of opportunities for American companies to partner with India in alignment with India’s domestic priorities, including infrastructure development, educational advancement, worker training and skill development, as well as a continued focus on raising the population’s standard of living.
In addition to Shankar, Susmita Thomas, Consul General of India in San Francisco, and Kumar Tuhin, Consul for Commercial and Political Affairs in San Francisco, were also in attendance, as well as Bellevue Mayor Grant Degginger.