Hitting back at U.S. President Barak Obama for his remarks on India being slow on economic reforms and restrictive FDI policy, Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma on Monday said policy making or taking decisions was the sovereign right of the country and instead asked the U.S. to ``demonstrate’’ leadership in bringing down barriers and protectionism in trade.

``We have taken note of this observation. There is always a difference between perception and reality. India remains one of the most attractive destinations for foreign investors. Recent UNCTAD report has stated that India was among the top three FDI destinations; the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation’s (JBICs) recent report placed India at number two and in the long-term, they have put India at number one. There is another report from the Kearney Consultant, which again puts India at number two. Ernst & Young has also said that over 4/5th of the FDI in South Asia came into India. In the last three years, a series of steps in the FDI policy have been taken in most of the sectors by adopting a calibrated approach in following the path of economic reforms and liberalisation,’’ Mr. Sharma told reporters here.

However, Mr. Sharma said, there was always a scope for improvement. ``Looking at the global economy, U.S. is the largest economy. We would urge U.S. to demonstrate leadership, or to give leadership in bringing down barriers, encouraging capital flows and trade in the world, which is good for every economy. U.S. should lead the fight in the world against protectionism and take forward the stalled Doha development round of the WTO and bring them to a meaningful conclusion,’’ he added.

He said last year India received FDI in excess of $50 billion. It was more than 34 pc or 35 per cent higher than the previous years. “So why this perception, I fail to understand? If there has been a sharp fall in FDI, I can understand, if there is 34-35 pc increase, then there is something wrong with that perception, because facts speak otherwise,’’ he said.

The Commerce Minister said Mr. Obama has every right to convey what his perceptions are. But, the policy making is a sovereign decision and Indian FDI policy regime is investor-friendly. ``We have an abiding commitment to reforms. We are one of the most attractive destinations and we will continue to be. Decisions are taken after an inclusive process of consultations which my government believes in and accordingly at an appropriate time decisions, which serve the supreme national interest, are taken. They have been taken in the past and will be taken in future also,’’ Mr. Sharma said.

Mr. Obama in an interview to PTI on Sunday noted that India prohibits foreign investment in too many sectors such as retail and endorsed another wave of economic reforms. ``It is still too hard to invest in India. In too many sectors, such as retail, India limits or prohibits the foreign investment which is necessary for India to continue to grow,’’ the U.S. President had observed.

Meanwhile, the Polit Bureau of Communist Party of India (Marxist) has taken a strong objection to the remarks by Mr. Obama that India should open its doors to FDI in retail trade and other U.S. investments. ``The statement by Mr. Obama is a brazen attempt to pressure the UPA government to adopt such steps as opening of FDI in multi-brand retail,’’ a statement issued here said.

The CPI(M) said the UPA government should not succumb to this pressure. The CPI(M) urges the government not to open up retail trade in foreign supermarket chains, which will endanger the livelihoods of lakhs of small shopkeepers and traders, it added.

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