India to set up panel for boosting economic ties with US India-US CEOs suggest $1 trillion infrastructure fund for India

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Washington, DC: With US President Barack Obama’s India visit in November offering an opportunity to intensify their economic engagement, captains of industry have suggested creation of a $10 billion debt fund for development of infrastructure in India.

Among other “interesting and ambitious ideas” recommended by the India-US CEOs’ Forum on June 22 were “collaboration under the National Solar Mission of India, a long term initiative on diabetes research and treatment, linkages between educational institutions and joint research in clean energy, including bio-fuels”.

To follow up on the ideas, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who led the high-level official team, announced that a committee headed by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia would be formed in India to carry forward the ideas with implemental action plans, the Indian embassy said.

Terming his meetings here as very successful,  Mukherjee said: “My bilateral discussions with Secretary of the State (Hillary Clinton) and the Secretary of Treasury (Timothy Geithner) clearly indicated that they are interested in widening and deepening the relationship between India and the US.
“On the whole I say, this was a good visit and all the meetings were successful.”

“We have identified certain issues on which we should work together. And this was the recommendations made jointly by both Indian CEOs and the US counterparts — education, infrastructure, clean energy, bio tech and health,”  Mukherjee said.

The CEOs met in a smaller format, before interacting with the government representatives. They presented recommendations to both governments in four core areas: Infrastructure, Clean Energy, Education and e-Health/Biotechnology.

The forum also discussed impediments and some breakthrough long term ideas, the Indian embassy said noting “CEOs from both sides and representatives of the two Governments agreed that there was tremendous potential and synergy in the economic partnership between India and the US”.

“The forthcoming visit of President Barack Obama to India would provide an opportunity to intensify the economic engagement and translate some of these ideas into deliverables,” it said.

Reconstituted last year with 12 CEOs from India and the USA nominated by Prime Minister Manmohan Man-mohan Singh and President Barack Obama respectively, the forum is co-chaired by Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons and Dave Cote, CEO of Honeywell Corp.

The forum first met in November last year on the sidelines of Manmohan Singh’s visit to Washington. The forum was attended by eight CEOs from each side at its second meeting on June 22.

There was very high level government participation from both sides reflecting the importance attached by both Governments. Besides  Mukherjee and  Ahluwalia, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma also attended the forum from the Indian government side.

From the US, there were six secretary level representatives who included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Trea-sury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Commerce Secre-tary Gary Locke, Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Director of the National Economic Council Larry Summers and Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg.

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