India assures US business of a level playing field

June 14th, 2012 - 8:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 14 (IANS) Assuring US businesses of “a level playing field” and “total transparency”, India has invited them to take advantage of enormous business opportunities offered by India’s plans to invest over a trillion dollars in infrastructure development.

“We have assured everyone who would be interested in making investments in India that there is going to be a level playing field and there will be total transparency,” Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said Wednesday at a joint press conference after the India-US strategic dialogue.

“With these two parameters being ensured, I am sure that a number of companies from outside India would be willing to participate in this great developmental journey that India is setting out on,” he said.

Noting that “there is a degree of scepticism” about the economic content of the India-US relationship, Krishna reiterated that the Indian economy will restore investors’ confidence and regain the growth momentum.

“Indian plans to invest more than a trillion dollars on infrastructure development in the coming five years will provide enormous business opportunities which the US companies can consider exploiting,” he said. “Openness and growth in the US economy will also support stronger economic ties.”

The joint statement issued after the dialogue he co-chaired with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “noted that bilateral trade in goods and services continues to grow and will likely reach $100 billion by the end of 2012″.

The joint statement also “called for an expeditious conclusion to negotiations toward a high standard Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) as a key part of the effort to deepen the economic relationship, improve investor confidence, and support economic growth in both countries”.

At the outset of the dialogue, Clinton had made an indirect pitch for India opening up its lucrative multi-brand retail for foreign investors, which has been put on hold due to opposition from some of UPA government’s key allies like Trinamool Congress.

“We look forward to working to advance negotiations on the bilateral investment treaty, to further reduce barriers to trade and investment in areas like multi-brand retail, and to create hospitable environments for each of our companies to do business in the other’s country,” she said.

However, the joint statement made no specific reference to “multi-brand retail”.

India has already allowed 100 percent FDI in single-brand retail. However, the cabinet decision to allow 51 percent FDI in the multi-brand retail sector has been deferred.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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