India visit aimed at strengthening ties: Geithner
Washington: Ahead of his visit to India next week, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said his aim is to deepen America`s relationship with the "economically and strategically important" country, where he would discuss global reforms and issue of terrorism financing.
"... I think there`s certainly a deep commitment on the President (Barack Obama`s) part to strengthen this relationship, a deep appreciation for the challenges India`s facing and the common interest we are facing on these kinds of things," Geithner told a group of Indian journalists here.
"I have watched him, listened to the President on this kind of stuff and I know he shares that kind of view very strongly," he said, adding the sole purpose of his April 5-6 trip is to deepen and strengthen the bilateral relationship.
Geithner said that terrorism financing is one of the issues that would be part of his talks with Indian officials.
"I can`t give you any detail on it (terrorism financing) but I know we will be talking about it as we have always talked about it. We have a lot of very productive, constructive things we have been able to do together on that front, we will keep doing it," he said.
Geithner, who will formally launch the new US-India Economic and Financial Partnership, along with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, said the main purpose of his maiden trip to New Delhi and Mumbai as Treasury Secretary is to work to "establish a long-term" relationship with India.
"I have huge admiration for the policy of India in the economic, financial (sector) and for the Prime Minister and have great admiration for what they have accomplished in dealing with this difficult time," he said.
Geithner said he wants to build a much stronger cooperative partnership with India on broader global financial issues, which are important for both the countries.
"One reason I am going to India is to get a better sense of what is happening there -- both in the economy and the broaden reform process in the financial sector and elsewhere. As always I am going to make sure that the leaders in Indian get to understand directly from me how we are managing our challenges here and how thing feel here," he said.
"I think that in anytime we have these kinds of conversations with a major partner, we spend a lot of time talking about the basic economic challenges in both countries. In India`s case, it is more important and a little different cause, "not just because India is so important to us
economically and strategically but it is going to be important
because we`re at a point in the broaden G-20 progress" and it is crucial that both sides work closely together in trying to set the agenda of reforms, he said.
There is a huge amount of promise in the G-20 framework for cooperation in international, economic and financial issues, Geithner said.
He said the initial response to the financial crisis has demonstrated that they want to make sure that they carry forward the momentum of the commitment to cooperation on the rest of the international reform agenda.
They have also shown a broad interest in strengthening the multilateral financial institutions and on trying to make sure that as recovery strengthens they are putting in place a more balanced pattern of growth globally that will provide prospective of a more durable, stable recovery in the future, he said.
By establishing a long-term relationship with India, Geithner explained, the US wants to build a much stronger cooperative bilateral partnership on broader global financial issues, which he thinks are important to both countries.
"We think that as we are reforming the architecture of the system, we want to make sure that countries like India are playing a rule of compensability to overcome (the crisis) using their economic strengths. As we do as much as we can, we understand where relative interest lies and how we can advance those interests," he said.
Geithner, who would be meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh besides Finance Minister Mukherjee and other top Indian officials, said he does not "actually sense a lot of tension or disagreement with India" on the core parts of global financial reforms.
But that does not mean it is not worth talking about it because it is good for both countries to be close on these things, he observed.
"As you know we are going through a transforming set of reforms here in the financial sector and we have negotiated in the G-20 process a set of broader international principles for reform so that we are moving in parallel, not separately in this area and I am sure I will have a chance to talk with them about what we are doing in the United States and what we want to see by the major economies as well," said the Treasury Secretary.
To a question about the sense of dismay in India on some of the statements made by the US President about American jobs being `Bangalored`, Geithner said: "This President understands deeply, as much as any President in American history and may be more because of his personal experience, how important the world is to the United States, economically, strategically."
"He (Obama) understands that America would be stronger if the world was stronger. So I think you will see in him policies that are completely consistent with that basic orientation, that basic judgment, those basic values."
Geithner -- who had visited Bangalore in 2000 when he was the Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, along with the then Treasury Secretary -- said the US has been much more open for a much longer time than almost any major economy.
"We are committed to that and we`re going to be very supportive trying to make sure American companies keep operating globally but this is just a good simple pragmatic tax reform towards neutrality," he said.
Acknowledging that there are disagreements between the two countries on economic issues, Geithner said: "But look at the quality of the disagreements relative to what has been typical for major economies. Compare the US versus Europe versus Japan."
"I think we are doing remarkably well in terms of the mutual interests and one of the reasons for it is because I think the Indian entrepreneur plays such a large role in the American economy today. You know it is just remarkable," he said.
The differences between the two countries are mostly defined by the differences in their economies, Geithner said.
"We believe we have a huge mutual stake in closer economic ties, integration and we have a very strong interest in working together closely in the G-20 ... in pursuit of common interest for reform and like in any of these things, any time two countries need to discuss financial stuff, the agendas will be similar in some ways but just different where we have different issues of concern."
Unlike China, Geithner said the US is going to be talking in India about the exchange rate regime.
"I think India is becoming more open, runs a flexible exchange rate regime. Its basic pattern in growth has been less export dependent, oriented over time. Different economy, different structure, different choices. But that changes the nature of the kinds of things we talk about when we talk together."
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