Chidambaram calls for closer Indo-US economic ties

Chidambaram calls for closer Indo-US economic ties

Pitching for closer business ties between India and the US, Finance Minister P Chidambaram has said the two nations should not let “a few cases of business rivalry” stand in the way of good relations.

Delivering the keynote address at the 38th annual Leadership Summit of the US India Business Council (USIBC) on Friday, Chidambaram expressed concern over provisions of an immigration legislation passed by US Senate that would make it harder for Indian IT professionals to get temporary work visas.

Stating that economic woes back home had been exacerbated by the global economic slowdown, he asked for patience as India creates jobs for its young and growing population.

India had paid a price for its earlier period of rapid growth “in terms of a high fiscal deficit, high inflation and now a high current account deficit. But these are not problems that we cannot overcome,” Chidambaram said.

Noting that business competition is the foundation of a free market and free economy, Chidambaram said business rivalries should not be brought to the political table.
“I therefore appeal to you there is great opportunity to work together for the two countries,” he said in his speech.

“We are a country where we are building our economy brick by brick, and in that process we seek your help,” Chidambaram told the audience that included executives, officials and lawmakers from both India and the US.

Expressing concern over the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill passed by the US Senate, Chidambaram said there is a need to find a way to “disentangle” it.

“In no dictionary is immigration defined as including temporary relocation of knowledge workers. Yet the immigration bill has a clause that seems to erect non-tariff barriers on temporary relocation of knowledge workers,” he said. “I have spoken to officials, Senators and Congressmen (on our concerns on immigration bill). They understated that.”

Calling for closer ties between the businesses of two countries, Chidambaram said India is facing the challenge of elevating its large population from poverty and building its economy brick by brick.

As a result of India’s economic reforms, a number of Indian companies have grown in size and stature and at times tend to compete with the US companies. This has resulted in competition between Indian and US businesses, he said.

“We have a very young population which is hungry and aspirational. We have a talent pool which is largely untapped,” he said, adding, there is need for the two countries to work together.

“We can do much better if we work together. I sincerely hope that our meeting today and tomorrow and in the future would give us more and more opportunities to build a prosperous society,” Chidambaram said.

Chidambaram strongly defended India’s policy on intellectual property, including compulsory license.

India, he said, is the largest country in the world that faces the challenge of eliminating poverty.

“We will do it. We have demonstrated our capacity to do it. Even after financial crisis, India’s growth has been impressive,” he said. “We would overcome them working with you. My appeal to you, my business friends in India and US, we have a common goal and great opportunity in eliminating this poverty,” said Chidambaram.

He is scheduled to meet US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Friday, after which he will fly back to India.

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