US keen on partnering India build smart cities

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Washington, Jan 13: The US is exploring new partnership opportunities for developing more smart cities across India, a top US Commerce Department official said, emphasising that states will play a major role in defining the trajectory of India's economic development.

"While we continue to promote smart city development efforts in the three US partner cities of Allahabad, Ajmer and Visakhapatnam, the Department of Commerce is also exploring new partnership opportunities in other smart cities across India," the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets, Arun Kumar, told PTI.

US keen on partnering India build smart cities

Kumar, who is also Director General of US and Foreign Commercial Service, said smart cities is one area where the two countries have made a lot of progress over the past several years. India and the US have signed memorandums of understanding to develop three smart cities in Allahabad, Ajmer and Visakhapatnam.

The US agreed to assist the cities in project planning, infrastructure development, feasibility studies and capacity building. In nearly three years of being in this position in the Department of Commerce, Kumar said he had the opportunity to see several promising new initiatives taking shape between the US and India during the Obama Administration.

"I am pleased that we have succeeded in standing up the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD) as a valuable platform for government-to-government dialogue on trade and investment matters, and that we have effectively linked it to our private sectors through the US-India CEO Forum," he said.

"I am also excited about our work with the Indian government in innovation and entrepreneurship, including the launch of the first US-India Innovation Forum in 2016," he said, adding that this will be a constructive mechanism for facilitating new innovation partnerships between the US and India and discussing overall policy issues that impact entrepreneurship.

Kumar said he is also excited that the US Department of Treasury has signed a terms of reference agreement with the Pune Municipal Corporation to launch a municipal bond for civic projects on pilot basis in Pune. This will help lay the groundwork for opening up new avenues of infrastructure financing for the city, he said.

"It is evident that India's states will play a major role in defining the trajectory of India's economic development," he said, adding that a number of them have already embarked on land, labour, tax, and other pilot reform programmes.

"Given the Modi administration's focus on competitive federalism, I see promise in facilitating greater engagement between US and Indian businesses, investors, and public officials at the subnational level," he said.

PTI

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