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Mr. Arun Jaitley, Minister of Commerce & Industry visit to Washington, DC

Washington, DC
June 12, 2003

Shri Arun Jaitley, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Government of India met his American counterpart Mr. Donald Evans, Secretary, US Department of Commerce on June 11, 2003. Both sides held a frank and candid exchange of views on a range if bilateral issues. Both observed that there was significant potential for enhancing and deepening bilateral trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

Earlier in the day Shri Jaitley, delivered the keynote address on the occasion of the re-launch of the India-US Commercial Dialogue in Washington DC. The US-India Commercial Dialogue was organized by the US India Business Council in collaboration with the FICCI and CII. In his address, Shri Jaitley noted that many areas of convergence underline relations between the USA and India, the world’s two largest democracies, which are committed to the rule of law, to upholding universal peace and security of open democratic and free societies.

While India is fully committed to free trade, Shri Jaitley mentioned that in a globalized world no country is immune from developments in another part of the world. India as the voice of the developing countries and the US as the largest economy should maintain the process of dialogue and engagement and arrive at constructive options on multilateral issues. Both countries can play a significant role in enhancing global trade.

In his address, Shri Jaitley reiterated the Government’s commitment to the economic reform process and said that the reform process initiated in 1991 had transformed the Indian economy. The economic reforms had contributed to the present strong fundamentals of the Indian economy – a rate of growth of 6% registered over the last decade, low levels of inflation, and comfortable foreign exchange reserves. In 2002, the Indian economy grew at more than 5% despite a poor monsoon and a sluggish global economy.  Shri Jaitley also noted that India’s exports grew by 18% during 2002. He attributed this robust growth in the face of various internal and external adversities to the competitiveness of the Indian economy. The reform process had also contributed to significant reductions in the poverty levels in the country, Mr. Jaitley said. He further emphasized the present Government’s commitment to the reforms process with special focus on the infrastructure such as roads, power, telecom as also the ports including connectivity in terms of roads and telecom in rural areas.

Coming to the present strengths of the Indian economy, Shri Jaitley recounted how India has carved for itself a niche position in the knowledge trade sector and noted with satisfaction that India had considerable manpower resource of skilled and unskilled labour which can meet the needs of all the developed economies of all their manpower requirements.

Shri Jaitley particularly praised the efforts made by the USIBC in promoting interaction between the business, trade and industry of the two countries and exhorted US businessmen to focus their attention on India as it had an attractive FDI regime. He stated that most of the US business interests in India are profit making ventures and some of them have attained household names. He urged the US investors to take advantage of the Special Economic Zones as also the Agri-Export Zones which have great potential for exports. The SEZ, he emphasized, with total or near total exemption from all duties, presented a great opportunity for investment which US business should exploit not only for the manufacturing of merchandise but also for services.

For more information, contact:
Sunil Lal, Counsellor (Press & Information) at (202) 939-7042