US wants faster pace of reforms in India, says Sitharaman

US wants faster pace of reforms in India, says SitharamanWASHINGTON: The US is appreciative of the series of reforms unleashed by the NDA government but feels that it is not happening at the pace it wants, according to Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

“Reform is happening but it is happening much slower than they would want it to happen,” she said after concluding the 9th round of US-India Trade Policy Forum meeting which she co-chaired along with US Trade Representative Mike Froman.

Later in the evening she interacted with the American business community at a reception hosted in her honor by the US-India Business Council (USIBC).

“They (Americans) wanted it (reforms) to be much speedier, quicker,” she said. At the same time, they concede that in India it is better to be steady and slow, she noted.

During the meeting, both sides welcomed the substantive progress in promoting bilateral trade and investment since the last TPF meeting in November 2014; and discussed future plans for continuing engagement at the technical and official level for deepening economic and commercial cooperation in areas of mutual interest.

The discussions focused on four broad work streams including Agriculture, Trade in Goods and Services, Investment in Manufacturing and Intellectual Property.

Sitharaman said the US now has a better understanding of India and its policies because the Indian government has actively engaged the American government and its private sector in various spheres related to their areas of concerns.

“We invited their active participation even as we were forming the policy. We invited them to ask any number of questions whether to patents or copyrights. We have not left even one question unanswered. So the readiness to talk, the readiness to answer question has actually helped to remove any apprehensions that they would have had in their minds,” the minister said.

“In today’s India, I am not frustrated at all. In fact if there is a movement, it is happening now. If there is a change, it is happening now,” she said.

On her second visit to the US in about a month, she said there is a growing and increasing engagement with the United States, particularly on commercial and trade matters.

“We have seen progress,” she said. “The Trade Policy Forum and developments in India together make the entire commercial engagement far more substantive and meaningful.”

During the Trade Policy Forum meeting, India and the US agreed to explore the possibility of enhanced market access on identified agricultural products.

“Both countries noted each other’s requests and agreed to follow up on exploring the possibility of enhanced market access on identified agricultural products,” said a joint statement issued after the meeting. –PTI

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