In her first official international visit after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nirmala Sitharaman embarked on a week-long trip to the US.
She was scheduled to attend the annual meet of the World Bank and IMF, G20 meet of finance ministers and co-chair the US India Economic and Financial Partnership Dialogue with US treasury secretary Janet Yellen.
The Minister is said to have attended 25 bilateral meetings and a handful of diplomatic dinners. She addressed the press on multiple occasions.
While her comment on the Lakhimpur violence created conversation, read on to know what else was said by the Indian finance minister.
'UN, World Bank, IMF Need to Be Reformed'
At the Harvard Kennedy School, Sitharaman emphasised on the need to reform international organisations and make them more transparent. She also mentioned that these institutions are no longer speaking for countries whose issues have been left unattended and that they should be reformed to serve this purpose.
While countries are reforming at different stages, the global institutes have not changed much in the past few decades, she said, adding that they need to become more representative so that there is a more equitable distribution of resources.
"Development has not reached many parts of Africa, many parts of the small Pacific islands. Many parts of those countries, even within countries, where there is differentiated development. So I think that’s what would have happened if only this reform agenda had been taken up by these institutions," she said.
'India Will Take the G20 Agenda Forward'
India has been given the presidency of the G20 for the next year. Starting December 2022, India will "work to take the G20's agenda forward," Sitharaman said.
India has joined the trio, which refers to the Chair of the G-20, and the one before and the Chair after the current President, The PTI reported.
An India-US Trade Deal in the Making?
At the India-US Economic and Financial Partnership meet which is considered the most important of the bilateral meetings held, the Indian minister met with the US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
The discussions touched on key areas of economic recovery from the pandemic to macro economic outlook; cooperation on global economic matters; climate finance support to infrastructure funding and combating of financing of terrorism, PTI reported.
While speaking to the press on if there is a trade deal, she said that her focus was on an investment incentivising agreement which has been spoken about and negotiations would like to be concluded soon. With respect to a trade deal, she said, "I have not engaged in depth into that." She reiterated that a trade deal is being talked about between the Department of Commerce and its American counterpart.
Opportunities Galore in India
Highlighting the opportunities in India for investors, Sitharaman pointed out that startups have been rising in India and growing tremendously. These startups raise money through capital markets which can be a promising opportunity for investors to invest in India.
She also maintained that India has fully leveraged the potential of digitalisation and technology in the financial sector is pushing the frontiers of financial institutions and that "fintechs are laying a key role in this area".
"With the current reset in the global supply chain and clear headed and committed leadership in India, I see opportunities galore in India for all investors and industry stakeholders," Sitharaman said during her address to global business leaders and investors at a roundtable organised by industry chamber FICCI and the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum on Saturday, 16 October.
US Welcomed India's Economic Reforms
In her last public appearance in Washington, Sitharaman told reporters that economic reforms in India undertaken by the Ministry have been encouraged and considered "positive" by both the US administration and the leaders of the American corporate sector.
""The reforms that we've undertaken, particularly the steps taken for the withdrawal of the retrospective tax has been mentioned by the United States Administration as a very positive step. The businesses with whom we have been interacting have also welcomed that decision."" - Nirmala Sitharam to members of the press in Washington
She maintained that many thought that the decisions were bold. "It took some time to come. We have also explained that they were legal compulsions before which we had to wait because some of the litigations which were going on had to come to a logical conclusion," she added.
According to PTI, her visit highlighted India's economic recovery and her government's commitment to long-term reforms. Members of the influential US India-Business Council in their meeting with Union Finance Minister on Wednesday, 13 October, praised India's reform trajectory and exuded confidence in the growing Indian economy.
(With inputs from PTI and Economic Times)
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