Highest level India-US economic meeting next week

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Washington, June 23: Seeking to unlock the "untapped enormous economic potential" between India and the United States, the Obama Administration is lining up its top financial officials for next week's India-US economic partnership dialogue.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee would receive a red carpet welcome from his US counterpart, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, as the two top leaders sit down on Monday and Tuesday for a series of meetings aimed at taking the economic relationship between the two nations to an altogether new level.

At the two-day meeting, the Obama Administration, besides Geithner, would be represented by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S Bernanke, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler, among others.

"The comprehensive inter-agency representation from both sides makes this the highest level of economic meeting ever between our two nations, demonstrating the vision and commitment of both our countries for an ever-deepening economic partnership," a senior treasury Official told reporters ahead of the two-day meeting next week.

The partnership was first announced during the 2009 State visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US and formally launched by Geithner and Mukherjee in Delhi last year.

"As two of the world''s largest economies, our relationship provides enormous opportunities for Americans and Indians alike. The partnership seeks to deepen those ties and strengthen these opportunities," the Treasury official said.

Besides the main meeting between Geithner and Mukherjee, there would be separate working group meetings on macroeconomic policy, access of finance by small businesses and infrastructure finance at the sub-cabinet level. 

Geithner would host Mukherjee for a dinner on June 27 and the two leaders would address a joint press conference on June 28.

Noting that India is the world's second fastest major growing economy and over the past decade trade and investment between the two countries have expanded rapidly, the official said India's growth has resulted in a strong appetite for US goods, ranging from aircraft and defence equipment to apples and almonds.

However, he noted that despite substantial growth of trade and commerce between the two countries, there is still huge potential to expand this trade and economic opportunities between the two countries.

"Given the relative size of our two economies, we still have major opportunities to expand our trade and investment linkages to the benefit of both countries," said the official.

"Our partnership seeks to unlock the untapped enormous potential between our relationships. The United States wants to see India as one of our top ten trading partners," he added.

"The dialogue between our two governments would help us to foster even closer connections between our economies. Our partnership has already contributed to deepening relationship and exchanges between our respected economic and financial sector regulators," he said.

"The high level discussions next week would further facilitate more open dialogue, enormous opportunities and focus on policies that can address.. for greater economic activities between our nations," he said.

While stating that no major trade agreements or economic accords are expected from the next week's meeting, the senior treasury official said among the items on the agenda would be terror-financing and trying to better align economic policies in the context of the Group of 20 nations talks.


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