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India committed to speedy reforms: FM tells US

Last updated on: June 28, 2011 16:14 IST

India committed to speedy reforms: FM tells US

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Trying to hardsell India, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday assured the United States business community that the country's growth story was intact and it was committed to expediting reforms and further liberalisation of the foreign investment regime.

"India's economic reforms have contributed to the Indian growth story. Overall GDP in 2010-11 has been estimated at 8.5 per cent. The economy is expected to maintain the growth momentum at the same level in 2011-12," he told a gathering of corporate leaders and policymakers at the 'US-India Economic and Financial Partnership' conference in Washington.

The minister further said that discussions were underway to build consensus on "further liberalisation of the FDI policy in the retail and defence sectors."

US businessmen are keenly looking at opening of the multi-brand retail sector to foreign investment and the issue was likely to come up during the bilateral meeting between Mukherjee and US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

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Image: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Photographs: Reuters
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As part of the major initiative, the minister told the conference, being organised jointly by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Brookings Institute, that India has completely liberalised "pricing and payment of technology transfer fee, trademark, and brand name and royalty payments".

Although the economy is on a high growth path, Mukherjee said the challenge is to sustain GDP expansion in light of global developments and contain domestic inflation, which is hovering at around 9 per cent.

Pranab Mukherjee, who arrived in Washington on Monday to attend the second annual meeting of the India-US Economic and Financial Partnership, is all set to lay the groundwork for a new era of trade and economic partnership with the US, officials said.

Though no formal agreements or memorandum of understandings are to scheduled to be signed during the day-long talks, officials asserted that the indications so far are that the talks could result in a path-breaking economic relationship between the two countries, following in the footsteps of what Mukherjee did to the India-US relationship when he was the country's defence minister and then the external affairs minister.

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Image: US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner.
Photographs: Reuters
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This is the first time that an Indian finance minister is travelling to the United States with half a dozen top officials -- Governor of the Reserve Bank of India D Subbarao, secretary of economic affairs R Gopalan, secretary of financial services Shashikant Sharma, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India U K Sinha; chairman of the Forward Market Commission B C Khatua and chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu.

In an unprecedented gesture, the Obama administration too has lined up its top financial and economic officials. Led by US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who spent most part of the first 20 years of his life in India, the other top US officials to attend the Second Annual US-India Economic and Financial Partnership include Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Mary Schapiro, US Commodity and Futures Trading Commission chairman Gary Gensler, Federal Deposit Insurance Commission vice chairman Gruenberg and National Economic Council director Gene Sperling.

"The comprehensive inter-agency representation on both sides makes this the highest-level economic meeting ever between our two nations, demonstrating the vision and commitment in both countries for ever-deepening economic partnership," a senior treasury official said.

Ahead of the talks, Geithner and Mukherjee made a joint appearance at a panel discussion organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Brooking Institute.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Geithner said the growth of India was not posing any danger to the United States.

In fact it complements the growth and economic development of the US.

Geithner later hosted a dinner for Mukherjee, which was attended by officials from both sides.

"We will discuss in detail how to expand relationship between India and the US and also the other issues on which we share common perception. One of the fundamentals principles of our relationship is that we share many common values," Mukherjee said at the CII-Brookings panel discussion.


Photographs: Reuters
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