Obama team attaches enormous significance to engaging India: Anand Sharma

June 19th, 2009 - 11:24 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 19 (IANS) India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma is returning home confident that President Barack Obama and his administration attach enormous significance in engaging India and wish to take their relationship forward.

“I have no doubt in my mind that President Obama and his administration attach enormous significance in engaging India,” he told a press conference here Thursday at the end of a three-day visit.

The first cabinet minister to visit the US after the Congress Party led coalition was voted back to power in India, Sharma met Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Trade Representative Ronald Kirk as also legislators and business leaders during his stay.

“Not only I find that there is a healthy respect for India, the values that it espouses, but also the vision and policies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh especially when it comes to the global economic crisis given his sound understanding,” he said.

India and America, world’s two largest democracies, both multi racial, multicultural, in every sense pluralistic, “can contribute a lot because we are constitutional democracies even when it comes to the roles which nations play,” Sharma said.

“But I find not only respect, but hope and commitment and I am sure that both countries have the shared wish and commitment to take it (the relationship) forward,” he said when asked how he saw the India-US relationship growing under Obama.

“Bilaterally our economic relations are very satisfactory and sound and that exchange will continue. We are also looking at other areas that we can explore,” he said.

Asked about outcries against outsourcing in the US, Sharma said it was not the right thing to do to look at it negatively. Outsourcing, he pointed out “has generated more employment in America itself than in India.

Indian Foreign Direct Investment in America is more than American FDI in India, Indian investment in America too is more. Globally also India takes the lead in acquisitions and mergers. If Indians took 24,000 to 30000 H 1 B visas for skilled workers, they also contributed to huge employment in America, Sharma said asking Americans to look at things in proper perspective, he said.

Asked about protectionist moves in the US, the minister said: “In our opinion protectionism is counterproductive for any country because protectionism at a time when we are talking of kick starting the stalled Doha development process would actually go against that spirit.”

“Protectionism in any legal format would also subvert the multilateral process and any protectionist barrier will prolong the present economic recession and further delay any turnaround,” he said.

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