US Treasury Secretary to Discuss Infrastructure Investment in India

Washington, April 1 (IANS) US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will discuss opening India's vast infrastructure needs to financing from US companies, financial investment and economic stability during a visit next week.

Geithner will meet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and launch the new US-India Economic and Financial Partnership with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi next Tuesday, a senior Treasury Department official said Wednesday.

Geithner will travel to Mumbai Wednesday for talks with US and Indian business leaders. The vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, Donald Kohn, and other senior US officials also will be on the trip.

The Partnership announced by President Barack Obama during Manmohan Singh's first state visit to Washington in November, will serve as a platform for greater cooperation on economic issues of importance to both nations, the official speaking to reporters ahead of the trip said.

The new forum will focus on three broad areas for discussion - macroeconomic policy, the financial sector and infrastructure financing - and will meet at the ministerial level alternately in the US and India.

Working group meetings will be held throughout the year to advance discussions on specific economic areas. Geithner, who is making his first trip to India as Treasury chief, will also discuss bilateral cooperation in the G20 group effort to reform global financial markets and deepening India's capital markets.

Last year, the G20 group of world's largest economies including India replaced the G7 as the main body for deciding global economic issues.

Geithner would like to strengthen and deepen bilateral ties. The official stressed that the meetings will be a "robust" dialogue, and not simply presentations of wish lists, the Treasury official said.

Noting that India has achieved a "balanced pattern" of growth with strong domestic demand, he said the United States remained interested in India opening up its capital markets in a phased way.

Rich opportunities could come for US financial firms if investments in Indian banks and other institutions were opened up, the official said.

US officials could also learn from India's impressive experience in amassing financing from the private sector for infrastructure projects, he said.

The United States is India's largest trading partner, with the volume of trade doubling in the last five years.


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