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US asks India to accelerate economic reforms

June 28, 2011 10:32 IST

Observing that India and the US are at the threshold of unlocking the great potential of their bilateral economic relationship, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Monday urged New Delhi to accelerate next generation reform to spur the growth of the Indian economy.

"We view this relationship as having enormous potential. I think we are just at the very beginning of unlocking the great potential of unlocking this economic relationship," Geithner said, addressing a conference on the 'US-India Economic and Financial Partnership' jointly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Brookings Institute, a Washington-based think-tank.

On Tuesday, Geithner will lead a high-powered US delegation for the second India-US Economic and Financial Partnership discussions being held at the Treasury. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee arrived in Washington on Monday morning leading an Indian delegation to attend what is being billed as the highest level economic meeting between the two countries.

"We are going to spend our time in talking about a list of the most important challenges and opportunities between us. Obviously as we always do, we would talk about the global economy, the risk and challenges ahead and talk little bit about economic developments in the United States and India," Geithner said, giving an insight into the meeting. Geithner, who hosted Mukherjee and his delegation for a dinner on Monday night, said their main focus is to look forward and expand and strengthen the economic and trade and industrial relationship.

"I think, from our perspective, the key thing is the outlook for economic reform. This is true in the United States -- fiscal and economic reform -- but also true for India as well," he said.

"India today is reaping the benefits of the path-breaking reforms set in motion in the past by Mr (Manmohan) Singh in 1990 (then as the Finance Minister). But I think, India is at a point now where the future growth would depend on the success of next wave of reforms, not just in the financial sector, but also including the financial sector," Geithner said.

"I think the Indian economy has outgrown the financial system and it has got a huge need for infrastructure financing, capital financing for running the business, the success of the Indian economy would depend on the substantial expansion on the success of the next wave of next generation of financial reforms. We hope to be part of that," he said.

On the trade and investment side, Geithner said there are substantial unexplored opportunities to improve access for Indian companies in the United States and US companies in India.

"Of course, Indian technology, talent and ideas already play a major role in the US economy and that is going to grow overtime. We are committed to running not just an open non-discriminatory investment regime welcoming Indian investment, we want to continue find ways to make Indian companies playing a greater role in our economic growth," Geithner said.

"We would be talking about things that are important to us in the Indian market. Indian authorities would look for ways to improve the quality in investment environment because again growth requires capital, investment and ideas and there is lot of room to improve on that basic front," the Treasury Secretary said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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