Nirmala Sitharaman on US visit: Have a look at what is happening in India, says FM to investors

Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been on a visit to the United States this week to have meetings with the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). During the visit, she has talked up the upbeat investment climate in India, and has met, among others, United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IMF First Deputy Managing Director Gita Gopinath.

Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman meets United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, as Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Ambassador of India to the United States, looks on. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@SandhuTaranjitS

Sitharaman also toured a facility run by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which has an ongoing collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

“Have a look at what’s happening in India,” said the Finance Minister, addressing potential investors, during a “fireside chat” at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), Washington DC. About the external perceptions of India and the country’s actual growth prospects, she said, “I would think the answer for that lies with those investors who are coming to India, and they’ve been coming. And as somebody who’s interested in receiving investments, I would only say, come have a look at what’s happening in India, rather than listen to perceptions being built by people who have not even visited on the ground and who produce reports.”

Sitharaman and Yellen met on the sidelines of the WB-IMF Spring Meetings 2023. They discussed ways to strengthen the India-US economic and financial partnership and the two nations’ engagement at international political and business forums. India has the current presidency of G20 (the intergovernmental forum of 19 countries and the European Union), and Yellen told Sitharaman in Washington DC that the United States would continue to offer its support to India on G20. Yellen had visited Bengaluru, the infotech capital in south India, earlier this year, in connection with a G20 meeting.

During Sitharaman’s visit to the US, a statement dated April 11 from the US Treasury Department said: “The G20 can bring strong political momentum to bear to make sure that the multilateral development banks accelerate their work on 21st century global challenges as part of their effort to end extreme poverty and expand shared prosperity.”

Post-pandemic Indian resilience

Referring to the post-pandemic global economy, in which India remains one of the most promising names, the Finance Minister said at the PIIE session, “It’s the resilience of Indian people to take it upon themselves, to take the challenge and come out in their businesses despite tragedies at home.”

Speaking of the Government of India initiatives to promote manufacturing in India, Sitharaman said, “India needs to have resilient value chains come to India, for which we came up with the Production Linked Incentives (PLI) scheme, so that those supply chains can thrive in domestic as well as international markets. We’ve incentivised production, so that goods produced in India are consumed in India as well as exported to other countries.”

According to a recent comment by IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva, the two major Asian economies — India and China — are expected to account for half of the global growth in 2023.

Artificial Intelligence and cryptocurrency

In her meetings with WB and IMF officials and other American officials, the Indian Finance Minister discussed global inflation, debt vulnerabilities, and geo-political fragmentation; she also projected India as a key investment destination, with a particular emphasis on India’s Artificial Intelligence push. Speaking to former US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, the Indian Finance Minister said that in Budget 2023, India had announced the setting up of three centres of excellence in the area of Artificial Intelligence.

Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman meets IMF First Deputy Managing Director Gita Gopinath in Washington DC. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@FinMinIndia

One of the salient points of her discussion with Gita Gopinath was regulatory oversight on cryptocurrency. According to a Ministry of Finance tweet, Gopinath “congratulated” Sitharaman “on the fruitful discussions that translated the February consensus on the need for a globally coordinated policy response on #CryptoAssets into an agreed set of guiding principles and an action plan on crypto assets”.

Space sector collaboration

Sitharaman underlined the science and technology aspect of India’s growth story during her visit to the Spacecraft Testing and Integration Complex at NASA’s Goddard Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Emphasising on India’s potential in the space sector, the Finance Minister’s office tweeted today: “The opening up of the space sector for private participation, which was initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has led to the growth of startups in ISRO, with the number reaching 150 within three years.”

Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visits NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, with Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Ambassador of India to the United States. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@SandhuTaranjitS

The Twitter handle of the Finance Minister’s office also referred to a NASA-ISRO joint project. It said: “NISAR is the first-ever collaboration between @NASA and @isro on an Earth-observing mission & serves as a symbol of India-US Civil Space Collaboration. On 8th March 2023, ISRO received the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) jointly developed by ISRO and NASA JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory).”