Strong international relationships support the state's favorable trade climate.

If your next-door neighbor owned a car dealership, you might turn to them first when you needed a new vehicle. Or if you decided to try your hand at keeping beehives in your backyard, you might offer your neighbors first choice at that locally produced honey.

Now imagine that with dollars attached. Big dollars.

That’s a little what it’s like when it comes to international trade and Georgia. In 2016, the state’s exports pulled in more than $35.5 billion, with $5.9 billion and $3.6 billion of that coming from our closest neighbors, Canada and Mexico, which rank No. 1 and 2 in terms of export markets.

Although exports are down $3 billion from 2015, Georgia maintained its rank as 11th in the country in exports. It’s 7th in imports, and international trade accounts for $121 billion dollars overall in the state.

Across Georgia, more than 14,500 businesses, most of them small or medium-sized companies, are involved in exports. And that dollar amount supports about 200,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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Trade Winds

Although Georgia’s exports did decline in 2016, Waters notes that may be a product of an improving economy creating a bit of a headwind. “During the recession, export growth was one of the only bright points,” she says. “The strength of the dollar was favorable, so we saw a lot of export growth from 2011 to 2014.”

But despite a stronger dollar now, there are plenty of places ripe for more trade. Take India, for example – it ranks 21st in terms of exports and 8th for imports, but it’s a big player at the Port of Savannah, where cargo coming to and from India has increased by more than 50 percent in the past 6 years.

Sonjui Kumar, chair of the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, says that since India is “second only to China as the powerhouse out of Asia,” there are plenty of opportunities to increase trade and foreign direct investment. She says Georgia has a big advantage with the Indian Consulate combined with a sizable Indian population in Atlanta.

Waters says that services is another area that is “big for Georgia and getting bigger everyday.” It’s harder to quantify, since export numbers are all based on the dollar value of goods, not services. But service sectors that are strong in the state include design, construction and architecture, film, financial tech, and education and tourism.

As for uncertainty in trade policy at the national level, Kumar says the Georgia story is unified and upbeat. She recalls a trip to India in January where her message was “We know there’s a change at the federal level, but [Atlanta] is still a welcoming city – the mayor, the governor, everyone has said that we are still open for business and we are not turning away trades.”

Read the full article: The original article appeared in Georgia Trend in June 2017 

Better exchange between the U.S. and India can address deficiencies in each of their respective health care systems, creating immense commercial value and healthier citizens in the process, a group of medical and technology experts said during a recent forum at the Consulate General of India. IMG 2444

While it has some of the best technology and treatments in the world, the U.S. health care system is expensive and unwieldy, really operating as a “sick care” system that doesn’t value preventive medicine, some said.

Little standardization of health care data among multiple payers means that providers can’t efficiently use it to improve outcomes.

“It’s really akin to you going to the ATM of a different bank and not being able to withdraw money. It’s really that serious,” said Saurabh Sinha,, CEO of eMids Technologies, which uses specially trained Indian IT workers to translate data into forms that make sense for researchers and doctors.

Plus, the insurance system in the U.S. detaches the patient from the true cost of their care.

“We have cultivated a generation of people, including myself, who are used to somebody else paying for health care,” Raja Ramachandran, director of product management at Change Healthcare, said at an Oct. 25 event organized by the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the consulate.

India, on the other hand, has succeeded at making top-notch care available (at least in major cities) at rock-bottom prices. A relatively poor country where insurance is still largely a foreign concept, doctors and hospitals have had to focus on cutting waste and focus on the entrepreneurial concept of a “minimum viable product.” That is, they use innovation to find the cheapest way to an acceptable outcome on a given procedure or device.

The marriage of these two national systems — or at least more interaction between them — would benefit both, and the more than 100,000 doctors of Indian origin in the U.S. are in a prime position to assist in making these connections.

Jayesh Sheth, or Dr. J, as he called himself, is one of those that works in both locales, and he’s noticed more of an appetite among the diaspora to work together for India’s benefit — and to tap business opportunities.

“I’m in Atlanta for 12 years now, and really I’m getting connected now,” said Dr. Sheth, CEO of Zilmed, which specializes in geriatric care.

Experts agreed that India has created a consumer culture around health care, while the American system has created ways to standardize quality care, even if the prices for it can vary wildly.

One advantage India has is scale, said Srivastan Pallavaram, a staff scientist at Vanderbilt University whose research helped develop a therapy that implants electrodes into the brain to treat Parkinson’s Disease. The procedure helps with tremors and other symptoms; the problem is that being off by just a few millimeters can create significant side effects.

With a base of more than 4 million Parkinson’s patients but few hospitals able to conduct such “deep brain stimulation” surgeries, Mr. Pallavaram sees immense value in the possibility of using data from procedures to better model implantation locations for future surgeries.

Data — collecting it first, and then being able to meaningfully use it — was seen as the next frontier in health care in the U.S., from information gathered from the sensors in wearables to data garnered from clinical trials conducted in India’s huge patient pool. Even the seemingly mundane area of claims processing is an area ripe for disruption through data.

India has an opportunity to avoid some of the negative aspects of the U.S. system as it develops.

For instance, telemedicine is already becoming integral to providing care across a massive nation with millions outside the reach of traditional health care infrastructure. The government’s Aadhar program, a system of ID numbers tied to biometric data, can also help with scale. Nearly 1 billion people have been catalogued in the system.

“In some ways that’s easier to build from the ground up in a system that’s emerging than it is to graft that onto a system that’s already well established here,” said Mr. Ramachandran.

Nagesh Singh, consul general of India, provided opening remarks and hosted the event, after which a dinner was held at the consulate.

The full list of speakers included:

  • Mr. Sameer Bhargav, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), SaaS Healthcare
  • Dr. Srivastan Pallavaram, Sr. Staff Scientist, Vanderbilt University
  • Dr. Barry Patel, Executive Vice President at Indegene
  • Mr. Maqbool Patel, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Vincari
  • Dr. Jayesh Sheth M.D., Chief Executive Officer, Zilmed.com
  • Mr. Saru Seshadri, Chief Executive Officer, Ultramatics
  • Mr. Raja Ramachandran, Director Product Management, Change Healthcare
  • Mr. Saurabh Sinha, Chief Executive Officer, eMids Technologies

Anita Ninan, an attorney at Arnall Golden Gregory LLP and a board member of the GIACC, moderated the panel.

Read the original article here.

On Monday, a new airline began operating from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Turkish Airlines began a new route with nonstop flights from Atlanta to Istanbul.

Aviation analysts say Turkish Airlines routinely has some of the best fares in the industry because of low labor costs and that this addition could help lower international fares out of Hartsfield-Jackson across the board.

Atlanta-area attorney Sonjui Kumar is a member of the board on the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce. She flew to Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and other cities in India five times last year for family and business trips with Delta Air Lines.

"We have to do a lot of gymnastics to get to India now," Kumar said. "You have to book well in advance, fly on dates you don't want to because you're trying to get a reasonable fare. The flights are just packed."

Continue reading: The original story aired on WABE 90.1 on Tuesday, May 17, 2016.

The board of the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce met with India‘s Consul General Nagesh Singh at the Consulate General in Sandy Springs on April 26 to discuss strategies for promoting business with India and raising the recognition of Indian firms and individuals active in the state’s economy.

Formed in 2000, the chamber has served as a bridge between India and the state of Georgia as the economic ties have grown stronger over the years. It also has organized networking events and partnered with local chambers as well as meeting with trade delegations from overseas and taking trade delegations to India.

During the luncheon meeting at the consulate, Mr. Singh called for the chamber to support his government’s efforts to increase the business ties with Georgia and the Southeast U.S. as well as raise awareness of the extent of the Indian communities’ commercial, educational and cultural impact locally.

“We want to work with you,” he told the board members who were receptive to a variety of networking events and creating new relationships with the local business community.

Board Chair Sonjui Kumar told Global Atlanta that the backing of the consul general will help revitalize the chamber at a time when the Indian government is actively pursuing new leads to expand commercial ties with the U.S.

The chamber also is in the process of launching a new website that may be viewed at giacc.net, which contains the names and contact information of the current board members. To review the chamber’s activities over the past 15 years conduct a search for GIACC on globalatlanta.com

The original article appeared in Global Atlanta on May 4, 2016.

The positive personal chemistry between Barack Obama and Narendra Modi has recast U.S.-India relations to such an extent that even Atlanta is feeling the new vibes, Sonjui L. Kumar, chair of the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, told Global Atlanta.

Ms. Kumar, a founding member of the Atlanta-based law firm, Kumar, Prabhu, Patel & Banerjee LLC, was in New Delhi, India’s capital, for a speaking engagement in late January when she witnessed the Indians’ enthusiasm for the relationship between the U.S. president and Indian prime minister.

“There was 24/7 coverage of the Obama visit,” she recalled of the president’s visit for India’s Republic Day celebrations. “Indians loved the personal connection and warmth that the two leaders showed.”

Read more here: http://www.globalatlanta.com/atlanta-hosts-mumbai-delegation-as-u-s-india-relations-warm-up/