India’s growth needs more opening, foreign funding: Powell

Kolkata, May 21 (IANS) US Ambassador Nancy Powell Tuesday called for greater economic opening and more foreign investments for India’s higher economic growth, saying “there is more yet to do” in the area of reforms to return to 10 percent growth.

“The road to higher growth will require more economic opening and more foreign investment. Since GDP growth is not an end in its own right, since the ultimate goal is to raise standards of living and to eradicate poverty, opening the economy and bringing in more foreign investments take on a new urgency,” Powell said.

“You cannot defeat poverty without growth,” she added, speaking at an event organised by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

According to her, the growth that had happened in India over the last two decades was enhanced by foreign investment.

“I applaud the efforts of the government to stay true to its commitment to continue with economic reform, particularly in the foreign investment rules. But there is more yet to do. In order for India to return to near 10 percent growth and to lift another generation out of poverty, more is needed,” she said.

While Asian Development Bank (ADB) sees the Indian economy growing at six percent in this financial year, the Reserve Bank of India’s latest growth projection is 5.7 percent for this fiscal.

Powell, who was on a two-day visit to the city, observed that India’s tariff as well as non-tariff barriers were too high which were preventing the country from obtaining the latest and best technology.

She, however, said the US and India shared similar goals to encourage domestic manufacturing and industry.

“I firmly believe that the most effective way to grow India’s manufacturing sector in both the short term and the long run is to make investment in India more attractive, both for domestic and foreign firms alike,” she said.

Describing Indo-US relationship as “vibrant”, Powell said: “The importance of building the economic relationship between the US and India in the immediate future cannot be understated, and I believe we are growing from strength to strength.”

She said since 2000, total bilateral trade between the two countries had increased five-fold to $93 billion in 2012.

“I am very enthusiastic about the ever increasing business ties between American and Indian companies and encourage them to foster greater cooperation in sectors ranging from agribusiness to education and energy,” Powell said.

The US ambassador to India, who met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the state secretariat here Monday, said while the country’s policy headlines might come out of Delhi and the business headlines might come out of Mumbai, it was increasingly apparent that “what actually happens in India” happened outside of the two metro cities.

“Since Siliguri, Asansol, Malda and Murshidabad have a growing voice in setting the nation’s policy agenda, they need to be brought into the conversation,” she observed.

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