Noting that India prohibited foreign investment in too many sectors such as retail, US President Barack Obama today cited concerns over deteriorating investment climate there to endorse another “wave” of economic reforms. Still sounding positive about Indian economy, “which continues to grow at an
impressive rate,” he said that to some extent, India’s slower growth is a reflection of the larger slow down in the global economy.
The US President answered a wide range of questions on the state of the Indian as well as global economy, Indo-Pak ties and American strategy in the Asia-Pacific region during an interview to PTI in Washington.
Obama was careful not to be directly critical of the negative investment climate in India but cited the concerns of the American business community to make his points.
Many in the American business community, “one of the great champions of the US-India partnership”, have expressed concerns that the investment climate in India is deteriorating, he said.
“They tell us it is still too hard to invest in India. In too many sectors, such as retail, India limits or prohibits the foreign investment that is necessary to create jobs in both our countries, and which is necessary for India to continue to grow,” Obama said.
Refraining from prescribing any solutions for India’s economic difficulties, the President said, “it is not the place of the United States to tell other nations, including India, how to chart its economic future. That is for Indians to decide.”
Obama noted that “there appears to be a growing consensus in India that the time may be right for another wave of economic reforms to make India more competitive in the global economy.”
The US President said India’s generous contributions have helped India to train Afghan police, promote development and improve the lives of the Afghan people.
India was the first nation to forge a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghanistan, and India’s civil service can be a model as Afghans strengthen their own governance and institutions, he said.
Obama said in hosting the recent conference on private investment in Afghanistan, India has shown a readiness to champion the nation’s economic development.
As a result of this spring’s NATO Summit in Chicago, he said they now had a clear path for bringing the war to a responsible end.
Next year, in mid-2013, Afghan forces would take the lead for combat operations and coalition forces would have shifted from combat to support across the country and their troops would continue to come home, the President said.
“By the end of 2014, the transition to Afghan lead for security will be complete so that Afghans can take responsibility for their own country.
“After 2014, NATO will continue to train, advise and assist and support Afghan forces as they grow stronger. Likewise, the Strategic Partnership Agreement that the US signed with Afghanistan, as well as our designation of Afghanistan as a Major Non-NATO Ally, makes it clear that we will not not abandon that country, or the region, to terrorists who threaten us as well,” he said.
Obama said one of the reasons why he valued the G20 was that it was the only place where leaders of the world’s largest economies — developed and developing — can come together and address the economic challenges that affected everyone.
Right now, he said, the global economy continued to face a number of challenges. Global growth, including growth in emerging economies like India, has slowed.
The situation in Europe has, of course, been a concern, Obama said. The G20 summit in Mexico was therefore an opportunity for them to hear directly from European leaders on the progress they were making and on their next steps.
The President said, “In our global economy, we can’t just have a few leaders of the most advanced economies making decisions that touch the lives of billions of people around the world.
“That’s why we made the G20 the leading forum for global economic decision-making, to give developing and emerging nations, like India, a larger voice. It’s why we increased the role of India and other emerging economies in international financial institutions. These institutions are stronger because of India’s active participation.”
Obama said he believed that the European leaders grasp the seriousness of the situation and were committed to holding the Eurozone together with the steps they have taken in the recent weeks.
“All of us have a profound interest in Europe’s success and the US will continue to support our European friends as they work through this challenge.