Although the U.S.-India economic relationship has grown significantly in recent years, economic barriers continue to prevent U.S. investment in several lucrative sectors.
U.S. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner and Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee met in Washington this week to discuss trade and economic investment opportunities between the United States and India in the second meeting under the U.S.-India Economic and Financial Partnership. The Indian economy grew 8.5% in 2010 and American corporations are eager to expand their business reach to the Indian marketplace of nearly 1.2 billion people.
Geithner urged India to implement substantive economic reforms, particularly in the finance sector, to enable the United States and India to fully realize the “enormous potential” of the bilateral economic relationship. Mukherjee lauded the rapid growth of trade between Washington and New Delhi in recent years and acknowledged the need for the easing of trade barriers
Despite the robust rhetoric welcoming expanded foreign investment, significant barriers remain to additional U.S. investment in several Indian sectors including banking, education, and legal services. India’s ruling Congress Party has been beset by a wave of corruption scandals that have weakened its ability to pass much needed economic reforms to lessen trade and investment barriers.
India desperately needs foreign investment to develop and expand a national infrastructure that is woefully inadequate to support its continued economic growth. New Delhi is likely to move incrementally toward further economic reforms with an eye toward easing restrictions that will allow foreign investment for infrastructure improvements.
Carolyn Leddy held senior positions with the U.S. Department of State and the National Security Council under the George W. Bush administration. She was a 2009-2010 Council on Foreign Relations-Hitachi Ltd. International Affairs Fellow in Japan and Visiting Fellow at the National Institute for Defense Studies in Tokyo.
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