Commissioner Ron Sparks has announced the opening of the Alabama India Trade Development Center in New Delhi, India. The Center will seek new opportunities for sales of Alabama products to India.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries has been working cooperatively with other Southern states in promoting value added food products, poultry, pulp and paper, newsprint, and introducing pecans to Indian consumers for the past two years.

The potential for Alabama companies in India is not only for food and traditional agricultural commodities. Because India’s economy continues to spur infrastructure improvements, Alabama is well positioned to provide industrial components to Indian companies from forest products to aircraft parts, from agricultural machinery to construction equipment.

By opening this center, Alabama companies will have a unique opportunity to have staff on the ground in India seeking a fit for Alabama products into the Indian market.

"India has a population of over one billion," said Sparks. "Of that one billion, 300 million are considered to be part of the consuming middle class of the country. That is more than the entire population of the United States. At the Department of Agriculture and Industries, we evaluated our companies in Alabama and determined that the Indian market would be a good match for our products."

India is expected to import over $8 billion in U.S. goods this year. Predications show that within the next 5 to 10 years, India will become the second largest economy in the world, behind China and above the United States.

"Some people may ask: Why are these figures for India important to us here in Alabama? Because Alabama companies are poised, ready and able to sell many products to Indian buyers," stated Sparks. "For example, poultry meat is one of the fastest growing sectors on global meat demand and as you know, Alabama is one of the largest producers of poultry in the U.S. We have been actively seeking additional outlets for our poultry to help our farmers grow and sell more birds.

“Alabama is the second state in the U.S. to open an office in India and I believe this Center will have a tremendous impact on sales of Alabama products to India."

The Center will be funded in part through the Department of Agriculture & Industries as part of the Southern United States Trade Association’s (SUSTA) New Delhi operations. The staff will consist of foreign nationals from India who have experience with U.S. markets. The staff will promote Alabama products by participating in trade shows and in store promotions, meeting with prospective importers, working on behalf of Alabama companies to ease import barriers, organizing visits of Alabama companies, and arranging networking opportunities for those companies.

Commissioner Sparks was accompanied by a delegation from the Alabama legislature. While in India, the group visited New Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai. In addition to the opening of the Trade Center, the delegation met with India’s Secretary of Agriculture, the U.S. Ambassador to India, the Mayor of New Delhi, pulp and paper importers, pet food importers, and visited a veterinary school to discuss the possibility of an exchange program between the school and Auburn University and Tuskegee University.