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US best partner for ‘Make in India,’ says US official

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New York: The United States is the best partner for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” campaign as the two nations seek to reinforce their strategic interests through commerce, a senior US government official said on Tuesday.

photo credit: www.dailypioneer.com
photo credit: www.dailypioneer.com

Under Secretary of Commerce Stefan Selig said that because the US produces “the best manufacturing exports” India will have “no better partner” in its bid to make the country “an elite manufacturing hub on the global stage.”

Briefing reporters here on the US-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD) to be held in Washington next week, he said the meeting “will examine how achieving our commercial goals can advance our mutually reinforcing strategic interests, including those under President Obama’s rebalanced Asia and Prime Minister Modi’s Act East policy.”

Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, will address the US-India Business Council’s (USIBC) 40th anniversary celebrations ahead of the dialogue next Monday in Washington.

US Secretary Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State for Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal, along with business leaders from both countries, will be among the participants in the dialogue.

Selig said that the most important goal in India-US long-term collaboration is to increase the annual bilateral trade from the current $100 billion to $500 billion.

Stressing the role of the private sector, Selig said, “We are intensely committed to engaging directly with business leaders through our expanded US-India CEO Forum.”

The forum which will precede the dialogue “will feed into the government-to-government discussions,” he added. It “will also ensure that business leaders play a central role in crafting policies.”

The overall focus in this year’s dialogue, Selig said, will concentrate on four areas:

* Building tomorrow’s smart cities in India and the related infrastructure;

* Participating in strengthening India’s business climate to the benefit of both Indian and American businesses;

* Harmonizing product standards to increase trade and further deepen our industries’ integration into global supply chains; and

* Developing best practices around innovation and entrepreneurship.

Reacting to a reporter’s comment that critical reforms were taking place at a slow pace, Selig said, “Let’s not forget the prime minister has been in office since just May of last year, and these are difficult, complicated issues and are going to take time. And the notion that all of these things would be addressed or fixed in that short period of time I think is both unrealistic and somewhat naive.”

He added, “There has been, in fact, steady progress. But there’s also room for growth and room for continued improvement and lots of work to be done.”

MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga, who is the chairman of USIBC, said in a statement, “The world’s largest democracies share a love of freedom and an entrepreneurial spirit that-if nurtured-can help realize the full potential of India-U.S. Relations.”

(Arul Louis, IANS)

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Oli Assures Modi, Nepal’s Territory Won’t Be Used Against India’s Interests

After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.

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Gokhale said that Modi's two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations
KP Sharma Oli, PM of Nepal, wikimedia commons

Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has told his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that Nepal’s territory will not be used against New Delhi’s interests, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said here on Saturday.

“Oli reiterated that they will be sensitive to our concerns and their territory will not be allowed to be used by anybody against India. Prime Minister Modi reciprocated the sentiments,” Gokhale told the media.

Gokhale called Oli’s view “very significant”.

There was a chill in India-Nepal ties during Oli’s earlier stint as Prime Minister between October 2015 and August 2016 when a border blockade blamed on New Delhi crippled Nepal’s economy.

There were also perceptions that Oli was leaning towards China than India.

Gokhale said that Modi’s two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations “whether it be cross-border electricity or cross-border connectivity”.

“We are looking into cross-border electricity and cross-border connectivity not only with Nepal but other neighbouring countries as well,” he said.

After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.

Stating that India welcomed the restoration of democracy in Nepal, Gokhale said that both the government and the opposition in the Himalayan nation were parties to it.

He said both sides agreed to be committed towards the stated projects. “We will address this within a set timeline.”

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi stressed on the importance of service to others in his last Mann Ki Baat edition for 2017.
Modi is on Nepal visit for two days, wikimedia commons

According to Gokhale, Oli confirmed to Modi that Nepal will host the the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) summit this year.

Bimstec comprises seven countries lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Gokhale also said that Modi’s visits to cultural sites in Nepal “suggested that there should be strong people-to-people ties”.

Apart from offering prayers at temples in Nepal, the Indian leader inaugurated the Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service, a 900 MW hydropower project and announced Rs 100-crore aid to develop Janakpur city.

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He also held extensive discussions with Oli, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and other government officials to better bilateral ties after which he said: “All misunderstandings with Nepal are over.”

Modi also met leaders of opposition parties, starting with former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and other members of the Nepali Congress.

He exchanged views on strengthening bilateral ties with former Prime Minister and Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”. (IANS)