India Trade Mission: Introduction
The FedEx international marketing and customer experience organization was created a little over two years ago to put a stronger level of focus on the growth of our international business. I moved to Memphis from Toronto (my previous job was President of FedEx Canada) to head up this new organization, and I have been on a wild and thrilling ride ever since.
FedEx is spread across the globe with a presence in more than 220 countries and territories. As a result, we are a key facilitator of global trade. It’s a good business as trade, as a percentage of GDP, continues to expand and will do so far into the future.
But to me, the scope of our mission is broader than moving packages from point A to point B. Trade is critical in enhancing the standard of living and lifting millions of people out of poverty all across the globe.
Having grown up on the other side of the “socialist curtain” for more than 20 years, I can personally relate to this. Growing up in India, which was very much a controlled economy with significant barriers to trade, most families had to wait years to buy a car, or even a telephone — AFTER they put their money down. There was a flourishing “black market” for US dollars, which traded at a very different rate than the official exchange rate and smuggling of contraband goods (think soda pop bottles) was rampant.
In 1991, all this changed almost instantaneously as the government liberalized the economy and opened the borders. Seemingly overnight, goods and services previously unaccessible to the middle class were available in plenty at retail outlets. The country has traveled a long way in the past 17 years.
A month ago, I was very fortunate to be present in the White House when President Bush signed the US-India nuclear deal. While the nuclear deal is a very important energy security initiative, I believe it serves as a catalyst to broadening the trade ties between the two countries.
Next week, I will be traveling to India with a delegation from FedEx. As part of this trip, we will also engage with a trade mission that FedEx is coordinating with the US Commercial Service. Several small and medium-sized companies from the US are going to India as part of the trade mission and I sure hope that through missions like this, US-India trade can reach its full potential.
I look forward to blogging to you from India.