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Updated: June 23, 2010 14:07 IST

India to set up panel for boosting economic ties with U.S.

PTI
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Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee shakes hands with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in Washington on Tuesday. Photo: PTI
PTI Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee shakes hands with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in Washington on Tuesday. Photo: PTI

India will set up a high-level committee to identify areas for expanding economic ties with the US, from where it expects an estimated investment of $ 250-300 billion in infrastructure space.

The committee, to be set up under Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, would coordinate with various ministries and prepare a roadmap before US President Barack Obama’s India visit in November, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told PTI in an interview here.

India needs USD 1 trillion of infrastructure investment, where there is still a gap of 25-30 per cent and can be filled in by the US companies, Mr. Mukherjee said.

Speaking after attending a meeting of Indo-US CEOs Forum here, Mukherjee said the US wants India to expedite relevant legislative actions for economic reforms like opening up of insurance, other sectors.

Terming his meetings here as very successful, Mr. Mukherjee said: “My bilateral discussions with Secretary of the State (Hillary Clinton) and the Secretary of Treasury (Timothy Geithner) clearly indicated that they are interested in widening and deepening the relationship between India and the US.

“On the whole I say, this was a good visit and all the meetings were successful.”

“We have identified certain issues on which we should work together. And this was the recommendations made jointly by both Indian CEOs and the US counterparts -- education, infrastructure, clean energy, bio tech and health,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

“They also suggested what are the impediments in fully exploiting the relationship between our two countries and a breakthrough of the long term ideas,” he noted.

Mr. Mukherjee said that after returning to India he would “set up a committee, a small group, under Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, who will co-ordinate with all the concerned ministries on the issues which have been identified...”

The committee would then “prepare a road map on what could be done and what are doable, so that before (the US) President’s visit to India in November, both the leaders (Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh) are in a position that these are the areas in which progress has been made and what further progress could be made, that could be known.”

Mukherjee said that Indo-US relations were “moving in the right direction” and the two contries would surely make breakthrough in major areas.

“I am quite confident that in major areas we will be able to make real breakthrough. Our relationship is expanding very fast. Despite the slowdown, I think, both way international trade is $37 billion.”

Asked why India was not getting much US investment into the infrastructure sector, despite it being a focus area, Mr. Mukherjee said: “We require more. It is incorrect to say that we are not getting. But we require more.

“Nearly one trillion dollar is the level of investment which would be required. 25 to 30 per cent of which ... still there is a gap. So this can be filled in by US companies, particularly in the long term infrastructure, for long term investment in road, shipping, communication, transport,” he added.

Asked whether the US counterparts in his meetings sought more opening up on issues like taxation and liberalisation, he said, “Certain issues that are pending, naturally they emphasized on it. For instance the opening up of the insurance sector, 26 per cent to 49 per cent, where the pending legislation is there.”

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