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SC Gov. Haley plans trade mission to India

Andrew Shain
ashain@thestate.com
FILE Nikki Haley
- FILE. The State newspaper
Nikki Haley

COLUMBIA, S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley is heading to India for a 10-day trade mission in November, state commerce department officials said Monday.

Haley will visit New Dehli, Mumbai and the Punjab state, which is where her parents were born.

The mission will include five staff members from the commerce department and governor's office, commerce secretary Bobby Hitt said. The estimated state price tag is about $50,000, he said.

The trip from Nov. 12-22 takes place a week after elections in South Carolina. Haley is seeking a second four-year term.

The commerce department has sent officials to India, including a trip underway this week, Hitt said. South Carolina is playing catch up after a number of other states that have made trade missions to world's second-largest most populated nation in recent years, he said.

"CEOs want to meet CEOs, and Gov. Haley is our CEO," Hitt said.

Haley's Indian heritage also should help in making connections with business leaders, Hitt said.

In her 2012 biography, “Can’t Is Not an Option,” Haley said her parents hailed from the Punjab state of India and met on a mountain vacation in northern India. Haley said one of her grandfathers was a commanding officer in the British Army during the colonial period.

Haley's father brought his family to North America in the late 1960s, according to her book. Ajit Randhawa studied for a doctorate in Vancouver, and the family moved to South Carolina in 1969 where he got a teaching job at Voorhees College in Denmark. Haley was born three years later while the family lived in Bamberg.

Haley's only other visit to India when she was two year old, her office said. Her 2010 election drew coverage in her parents' native country.

"There will be a great deal of interest in the media there," Hitt said. "This will be a special trip for her."

Hitt said he did not know if Haley’s family, including her children and parents would join her on the trip. Her husband, Michael, has joined the governor on other overseas trips.

Since taking office in 2011, Haley has attended air shows in Paris and England, an auto show in Frankfurt and a trade show in Tokyo. Haley spent three days last week in Canada visiting Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

India ranked 16th in investment among foreign-based companies in South Carolina from 2011-13, Hitt said.

"That's why we see an opportunity here," he said.

Businesses in the country can help with South Carolina's growing automotive and aerospace industries.

"It essentially has everything," Hitt said.

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