Top tech execs get ready to meet Modi as China’s economy falters


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to supporters as he arrives at the Lotte New York Palace hotel in New York City, June 20, 2023.

Mike Segar | Reuters

As China’s economy falters, top U.S. corporate executives are making it a priority to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his state visit to the White House, including Thursday’s dinner.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and FedEx CEO Raj Subramaniam will be among the several U.S. CEOs attending the White House state dinner Thursday, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The state dinner is a first for India and is viewed by New Delhi as a coup.

“The opportunity is huge. The administration is going all out to give the prime minister a close-to-royal welcome,” Frank Wisner, former U.S. ambassador to India, told CNBC.

Other companies with a big footprint in India will also send their CEOs, including Marriott‘s Tony Capuano and Cummins‘ Jennifer Rumsey, according to multiple sources.

The biggest deal to be announced will be General Electric co-producing military jet engines in India alongside Hindustan Aeronautics.

“Strengthening of US-India defense and security ties will likely be a major outcome for the trip, especially around issues of critical technology sharing and defense equipment IP,” said Safiya Ghori-Ahmad of the Atlantic Council who previously worked on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to CNBC.

Separately, CNBC has learned General Atomics is nearing a deal to sell new drones to New Delhi at a time when the country is trying to beef up its security.

Modi’s arrival to the U.S. follows a high-profile meeting in China between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s President Xi Jinping on Monday in a bid to ease tensions between the two largest economies in the world. China is one of the agenda items when Modi meets with Biden and U.S. executives Thursday and Friday.

“Both the U.S. and India share a common interest in managing the rise of Chinese power,” said Wisner.

A separate Modi meeting with tech leaders is also in the works for Friday, where technology transfer and finding ways to diversify away from China will be discussed, per multiple sources.

With China’s economy decelerating and political tensions high, corporate America has taken steps to diversify away from the country. Apple opened two retail stores in India earlier this year after moving some iPhone production to the country. CNBC previously reported Apple is also looking to move some of its iPad production from China to India, although unskilled labor and weak infrastructure present challenges for U.S. businesses wishing to expand businesses there.

Sources close to Modi say the Indian leader is hoping to ease those concerns and see more U.S. companies commit to manufacturing there as well. Modi is said to have met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday to discuss opening a factory in the country as well, sources previously told CNBC.

This article was originally published on CNBC