India woos US with $1 trillion infrastructure business

India woos US with $1 trillion infrastructure business

There is new opportunity for US investors "for work in this area", Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told a joint new conference here Tuesday as fast-developing India is planning to raise $1 trillion in infrastructure financing by 2017, half of it from the private sector.

Calling the discussions with US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at the just concluded second meeting of the US-India Economic and Financial Partnership "fruitful", Mukherjee said the level of interaction between the US and Indian officials has "increased substantially" since the last round of talks.

"The single most important takeaway is the commitment of both governments to work very hard to expand and deepen this relationship and make sure that Indian companies and American companies are benefiting even more than they already are from these tremendous opportunities ahead," said Geithner.

However, keeping the US push for more economic reforms by India, he said: "American companies still face barriers in India in sectors such as banking, insurance, manufacturing, multi-brand retail and infrastructure."

"Easing those barriers, which are limiting economic growth and job creation in both our countries, would be an important step toward integrating our economies," Geithner added.

A joint statement issued at the end of talks said India and the US had agreed to work together to expand trade and investment links between their two economies, and to develop and strengthen their financial systems.

They would also "work together in the G-20 on an effective mutual assessment process to bring about strong, sustained, and balanced global growth".

The joint statement said "leveraging their combined knowledge, experience, and shared interests, the two agreed to a robust agenda" for the coming year that includes deeper engagement in three key areas: macroeconomic challenges, financial sector reforms, and infrastructure finance.

The US, the joint statement said, is "committed to making the investments in technology, skills, and infrastructure necessary to maintain and enhance US competitiveness in the global economy".

On its part, "India intends to take steps to marshal private and public saving to meet the infrastructure needs of a rapidly growing Indian economy", it said.

Currently, bilateral trade between the two countries is about $49 billion annually. This is just over a tenth of the US' $456 billion bilateral trade with China, its second-largest trade partner after Canada.

Reserve Bank of India Governor Duvvuri Subbarao and US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke also participated in the meetings Monday and Tuesday in what the statement called "the highest level economic and financial meeting ever between our two countries".

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