Hillary, Mamata differ on retail FDI

Hillary, Mamata differ on retail FDI

Hours after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the West Bengal government locked horns with the US government as State Finance Minister Amit Mitra wrote to the US Consul General in Kolkata, urging him to avoid writing “mention of investment in retail”, in their press statement.

Mitra in a letter to the US Consul General, Kolkata, Dean Thompson wrote: “I would like to mention on behalf of the West Bengal government that Honorary Secretary of state, USA, did not mention ‘Foreign Direct Investment in Retail’, when speaking to the honourable chief minister and therefore, there was no further discussion on this specific subject at and on the basis of this.

“I urge you unequivocally and strongly that the mention of investment in retail sector be avoided in your press statement.”

Mitra’s note followed a special release issued by the Office of the Public Affairs Department of the Consulate General of the United States, Kolkata wrote, “Touching on issues ranging from increasing the US investment in West Bengal including in the retail sector, US-India relation, regional affairs and strong people-to-people connection, the secretary reaffirmed to Chief Minisiter Mamata Banerjee the US’ desire to work with India and West Bengal to deepen and broaden our partnership.”

Earlier, Hillary claimed at an interactive session that FDI would be high on her agenda, but after the two leaders met later on Monday, Mamata told reporters after the meeting that “there has been no discussion on FDI in retail and Teesta water accord.”

On the US desire that the Indian market would open to multi-brand retail, Clinton said the primary reason for this was the "enormous amount of experience that has been brought to India by supply chain management in developing relationships with producers" so that their produce was easily and abundantly available in a large quantity.

Referring to the issue as ‘highly contentious’, she said, “There are lots of issues which are very difficult but I would like to know the chief minister’s view on the issue because this will not only create job opportunities but the small producers will also get benefitted by it.”

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