PHOTO BY: Embassy of India, Washington, DC

Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman answering a question from IAT Editor Tejinder Singh (extreme right) at an interaction with Washington, DC based journalists

Washington, DC – The Indian Finance Minister highlighted the role played by governments to control terrorist activities, especially terrorism infested Pakistan, as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) granted Pakistan a loan.

Speaking to a select group of journalists, the visiting Minister Nirmala Sitharaman shared her thoughts about a recently extended loan worth $ 6 billion to cash-strapped Islamabad to bail out its sinking economy.

Linking monetary support and fight to curb terrorism, the minister told journalists: “I didn’t get into the details of what considerations were placed before them (Pakistani negotiating team) when they (IMF) extended the facility to Pakistan but I certainly did mention that it has to have a certain linkage otherwise if there’s a global action towards controlling terror and money laundering then it won’t serve the purpose.”

US-India Deal

The minister refused to speculate on a definitive target date for the elusive US-India trade deal. Sitharaman said, “Negotiations are going in full speed and there’s a great intensity with which both sides are engaging. Hopefully, the deal will be struck soon.”

“That is something on which Robert Lightizher, the US Trade Representative, and Wilbur Ross, US Commerce Secretary, is working on,” she added.

She mentioned that she met with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the sidelines of 40th meetings of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) of the IMF and had “fruitful dialogue”. The two leaders agreed to continue the dialogue in the first week of November, during his visit to Delhi.

China Exodus

On the question of advantage for India, as US-China are locking horns with bilateral trade tensions, Minister Sitharaman felt most of the companies “will stay to service the Chinese market” but for manufacturing and exporting, companies are moving out of China.

Clarifying her perspective on the subject and how data shows Vietnam was the main fallout benefactor of strained US-China trade equations, Sitharaman felt Vietnam was already saturated, “as shortfall in labor availability,” becomes apparent.

Earlier addressing a group of investors and industry leaders, the Indian Minister stressed the rule of law works in India, and with a lot of reforms being implemented now, even those to cut down delay, saying: “So, you will not have anything better… democracy-loving, capitalist-respecting environment… in India.”

Interest Rates

Summing up her participation at the global financial summit, she said the focus of IMF meetings was to prop up interest rates as global economic slowdown unfolds but argued largely that Indian and Chinese performances will have a lasting effect.

“The rise in interest rates is largely dependent on India and China’s growth estimates. In other words, on their performance depends the rest of the global growth also,” she emphasized.

The minister headed to Chicago to attend meetings including an interaction session with the Indian diaspora before heading back home. She had earlier visited New York where she met institutional investors and a broad spectrum of US industry leaders.


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