Barack Obama’s visit to India in November will have a major impact on issues of com­merce and invest­ment between that country and the United States, said Ron Somers, pres­i­dent of the U.S.-India Busi­ness Council.

Somers spoke on Thursday at a day­long sym­po­sium on emerging mar­kets at Northeastern’s John D. O’Bryant African-​​American Insti­tute. Other pre­sen­ta­tions exam­ined oppor­tu­ni­ties for U.S. firms in China and Brazil; doing busi­ness in Russia; and selling in emerging markets.

Ravi Rama­murti, dis­tin­guished pro­fessor of inter­na­tional busi­ness and director of Northeastern’s Center for Emerging Mar­kets, orga­nized the pro­gram. The center is a clear­ing­house for the latest ideas on the busi­ness oppor­tu­ni­ties springing up in devel­oping inter­na­tional mar­kets around the world.

In his remarks, Rama­murti said that 60 per­cent of the growth in the world’s overall gross domestic product would take place in emerging mar­kets, which he described as cen­ters of pro­duc­tion and innovation.

One of those mar­kets with the greatest poten­tial is India, and Somers said Obama’s visit is seen by offi­cials there as an oppor­tu­nity to gain the atten­tion of an Amer­ican admin­is­tra­tion that has been pre-​​occupied with Afghanistan and Iraq.

India is eager “to be dis­tin­guished as a true strategic partner” with the United States, said Somers.

As part of his visit, Obama is expected to seek deeper secu­rity rela­tion­ships with India. The country is “a very soft target” for ter­ror­ists, said Somers, but it is ramping up secu­rity by spending more on defense. He pointed to the country’s $11 bil­lion invest­ment in its air force over the next five years.

Beyond the secu­rity issue, Somers noted impor­tant com­mon­al­i­ties between the two nations that should help foster stronger com­mer­cial ties: a deter­mi­na­tion to stop ter­rorism and drug smug­gling, edu­ca­tion sys­tems that pro­duce more physi­cians, engi­neers and PhDs than any other nation in the world, and a vibrant youth market.

Fifty-​​four per­cent of India’s 1.2 bil­lion people are younger than 25, noted Somers. “They’re a youthful, hopeful nation that, like us, empha­sizes open market prin­ci­pals,” he said, adding that he hopes Obama will “feel the warmth and gen­erosity of the Indian people” when he becomes only the sixth U.S. pres­i­dent to visit the country.

But there are numerous chal­lenges facing the fastest growing economy in the world, Somers said. Six hun­dred mil­lion people in India live on less than $2 a day, 30,000 farmers commit sui­cide each year and half of the 190 mil­lion people in Uttar Pradesh, a state in the northern part of India, are illiterate.

The ability to pro­duce mass quan­ti­ties of clean energy using a 200-​​year supply of coal buried under the ground is a top pri­ority, said Somers, and an obvious point of part­ner­ship with the Americans.

How can the United States coop­erate with India to develop the best tech­nology to burn the coal cleanly?” he said.