Finance Minister Calls for Closer India-US Economic Ties

0
243

July 15, 2013

By Geeta Goindi

By Geeta Goindi

Washington, DC – Articulating a strong case for Indian and American businesses to work together for a prosperous world, Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told a power-packed business summit  held on July 11 that India is seeking cooperation to build its economy.

July 15, 2013

By Geeta Goindi

By Geeta Goindi

Washington, DC – Articulating a strong case for Indian and American businesses to work together for a prosperous world, Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told a power-packed business summit  held on July 11 that India is seeking cooperation to build its economy.

Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram delivering the keynote address at the 38th annual ‘Leadership Summit’ of the US India Business Council (USIBC) in Washington.  Photo credit: Joshua Roberts, US Chamber of Commerce

In a special keynote address at the 38th annual ‘Leadership Summit’ of the US India Business Council (USIBC), Chidambaram said: “We are not a predator.  We are not even a competitor in the real sense.  We are a country which is building our economy brick-by-brick and in that process, we seek cooperation”.

He underscored, “our two countries have a great opportunity to work together, not only for our mutual benefit, but for the benefit of the whole world”.  The theme of the Summit was ‘Agenda for Progress’.

The USIBC event drew trailblazers in business and industry, finance, government and public policy.  Among the featured speakers were: Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma; Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao; Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission; US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker; US Trade Representative Michael Froman; Senator Mark Warner (Democrat – Virginia), co-chair of the Senate India Caucus; Congressmen Joseph Crowley (Democrat – New York), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, and Ami Bear (Democrat – California); Ron Somers, President of USIBC; Ajay Banga, Chairman of USIBC, President and CEO of MasterCard; industrialist Ratan Tata; David Cote, Chairman and CEO of Honeywell; and former ambassadors to India – Frank Wisner, Richard Celeste, Robert Blackwill, David Mulford and Timothy Roemer.  Some 350 distinguished guests attended the sold out evening reception with an overflow crowd.

Chidambaram told the gathering that “business competition is the foundation of a free market and a free economy”.  He noted that Indian companies have grown in size, stature and capacity and, at times, compete with American businesses.  “When businesses compete in the same market, there will be occasions for business rivalry”, he acknowledged.  But, “a few cases of business rivalry ought not to be brought to the political table and converted into a political issue between two countries that have so much to contribute towards prosperity by working together”, he emphasized.

The Finance Minister categorically stated that “the world cannot have prosperous countries and countries stricken with poverty”.  In this context, he noted that “India is the largest country in the world that faces the greatest challenge of poverty.  China has, by and large, overcome that challenge”, he said.  “India is still in the process of overcoming that challenge.  And we will do it.  We have demonstrated our capacity to do it.  Even after the financial crisis, India’s growth has been impressive”.

Acknowledging that India has paid a price in terms of a high fiscal deficit, high inflation and high current account deficit, Chidambaram told the gathering: “These are not problems that we cannot overcome.  We will overcome them by working with other countries, by working with the world’s leading economies, by working with you”!

He pointed out that “all of us gathered here are engaged in the greatest enterprise of man which is to create wealth.  Countries that have created wealth, business leaders who have created wealth, have lifted millions out of poverty and given them a life of dignity and hope”, he said.  “For this reason, we advocate free trade and dismantling of barriers, we have WTO, G-20 has a mandate to end poverty, we created the World Bank, we have multi-lateral development institutions”.

Expressing India’s concern over the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the US Senate, Chidambaram pointed out that it has a clause which seems to create non-tariff barriers on temporary relocation of knowledge workers.  “To the best of my understanding, in no language, in no dictionary, is immigration defined as including temporary relocation of knowledge workers”, he said.  “Immigration means the desire to migrate to a country, to live in that country and to become a citizen of that country”.

Recognizing that the larger issue of immigration “belongs entirely to the sovereign government of the United States and the sovereign Congress of the United States”, he bemoaned that the issue of temporary relocation of knowledge workers has somehow got entangled with the larger issue of immigration.  “We must find a way to disentangle that”, he said, adding, “I’m happy that Ron Somers and his team are helping us to disentangle that issue”.

Chidambaram attributed the “angst” felt by some American investors to the economic slowdown.  “If India was growing at over eight percent and if the US was growing at three percent, much of this angst would disappear”, he said.  “The last few years have been bad for everyone, for every country in the world”, he noted.  “Anything that could go wrong, went wrong.  I’m not surprised that we seek to emphasize not the positives, but the negatives … and we tend to blame each other for the challenges that we face, rather than find ways to overcome these challenges”, he said.

Drawing attention to the strides made in India-US economic ties, the Finance Minister pointed out that two-way trade is over $100 billion, “a number that neither Montek or I could have imagined when economic reforms were first unleashed in India, in 1991", he said, to applause from the audience.  “Today, $100 billion seems far below our potential and we have the capacity to raise it several-fold”.

Furthermore, “two-way investments between India and the US crossed $30 billion, yet there are huge opportunities for US companies to invest in India and good opportunities for Indian companies to invest in the US”, he said.

Noting that India has huge strengths in natural resources, Chidambaram told American business leaders, “We have a very young population that is hungry and aspirational, that desires the best in education.  We have a young talent pool.  You have technology.  You have the world’s finest universities, the world’s greatest laboratories.  You have shown the greatest entrepreneurial spirit of any country, at any time in the history of mankind.  All these can be brought together to build prosperous societies, both in India and the US, and to end poverty”.


Community Special by MYDOSTI.COM

Community Special by MYDOSTI.COM

Community Special by MYDOSTI.COM