India, US to begin dialogue to boost trade, investment

June 27th, 2011 - 7:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee Washington, June 27 (IANS) India and the United States kick off what is billed as their “highest level” economic engagement here Monday with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner meeting top US and corporate honchos.

While Mukherjee will focus on reassuring foreign investors that India continues to be an attractive investment destination, the US will push India to step up the pace of economic reforms to realise the full potential of one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

India’s “focus is on business. During the two-day stay, the finance minister will hold meetings with business honchos and top US economic policy makers,” as a finance ministry official told IANS in New Delhi.

“It would be good to reinvigorate the reforms process for India’s continued growth prospects,” US Treasury Under Secretary Lael Brainard told select Indian media, including IANS, in a briefing Friday on the US-India Economic and Financial Partnership meeting.

“Greater market access and retail multi-branding, those are all areas which matter,” she said.

“There are a host of benefits for opening up the retail sector,” ranging from more variety to cheaper cost to faster delivery of food products, she said suggesting that US companies had pioneered a lot of innovations and would like to participate in India’s growth story.

The key focus of the meeting will be infrastructure development, capital markets reforms, cooperation on the Group of 20 efforts to reduce trade imbalances, and efforts to combat money laundering, Brainard said.

The partnership dialogue will have the “broadest representation” with top officials from both sides. Indian officials joining the talks include Mukherjee’s chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu, economic affairs secretary R. Gopalan and Reserve Bank of India Governor Duvvuri Subbaro.

From the US side besides Geithner, key US economic policy makers joining the dialogue would be Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary L. Schapiro.

Mukherjee and Geithner will join a moderated discussion Monday at the CII-Brookings Conference on US-India Economic and Financial Partnership. The event is being organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the US-based think tank.

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

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