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O’Malley planning November trade mission to India

Gov. Martin O’Malley will lead a six-day trade mission to India in late November, his second overseas economic development excursion this year.

Gov. Martin O’Malley

The delegation of state officials, educators and business executives from Maryland companies will travel to Mumbai, New Delhi and Hyderabad. It will be the first trip to India for a Maryland governor.

“India’s economy is undergoing a rapid transformation and is expected to surpass all other countries to be the world’s largest economy by 2050,” O’Malley said in a statement. “With their industries modernizing and a young and career-oriented middle class, it is an ideal time to promote Maryland as a U.S. headquarters for Indian companies, particularly those in biotech and cyber security, and open new doors for trade for our small and mid-sized businesses.”

The trip will come as the governor’s staff crafts a budget that must bridge a $1 billion deficit and between a special General Assembly session on Congressional redistricting in October and the regular session that begins in January. O’Malley has been highly visible recently, burnishing his credentials on national and international issues as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. On Sunday, he was scheduled to appear on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

O’Malley and his delegation will meet with companies that could invest in Maryland businesses, potential trade partners and government leaders. He is scheduled to give the keynote speech at the Convention on Pharmaceutical Ingredients India, billed as one of the “largest and most comprehensive pharmaceutical event in South Asia.”

The governor’s full itinerary and the companies the delegation will meet with have not been finalized, said Raquel Guillory, O’Malley’s spokeswoman. The cost of the trip will not likely be released until after the governor returns.

Bob Walker, assistant secretary at the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, traveled to India in August to lay the groundwork for the trip, said DBED spokeswoman Karen Glenn Hood.

The delegation will include DBED Secretary Christian Johansson, House Majority Leader Kumar P. Barve, D-Montgomery, and county leaders including Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett.

Leggett said he hoped to promote his county’s strengths in the “life sciences, biotechnology, information technology and defense sectors.”

“These sectors align well with similar, fast emerging industries in India,” he said. “Now is the time to aggressively target foreign direct investment from India and other fast-developing economies like China and Korea, into the county.”

Howard County’s Ken Ulman was invited and is “very interested in attending,” according to his spokesman, Kevin Enright.

India was the 12th-largest export market for Maryland in 2010, with $233 million in goods sent there. It was also the 13th-largest import market, with $465 million in imports.

The state recently opened a foreign trade office there, one of 11 DBED operates worldwide to promote trade and investment.

O’Malley spent 10 days in May and June in China, South Korea and Vietnam with a 74-member delegation. They signed deals that are expected to bring $85 million in trade and investments to Maryland companies.

DBED spent $144,000 to send the governor and four other state employees, including Johansson, on that trip.

The India trip will be O’Malley’s sixth since taking office in 2007. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. traveled abroad twice, Parris N. Glendening, eight times and William Donald Schaefer, 14.