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India, US discuss money laundering, terrorism, easing FDI

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in New Delhi on Friday. PTI

India and the US on Friday discussed a range of issues including global and Indian economic outlooks, global debt sustainability, financial sector reforms, leveraging of capital flows and investment, and tackling money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.

These discussions were held in Delhi during the seventh India-US Economic and Financial Partnership (EFP) dialogue. The Indian delegation was led by Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance and the US side was led by Steven Mnuchin, the US Secretary of the Treasury.

“India and the United States discussed policies to stimulate economic growth and noted the significant steps India has taken to strengthen the financial sector, including Public Sector Bank recapitalisation and plans to merge some of the state-owned banks. Both sides also discussed capital flows, investment promotion related issues, and the external economic environment,” the countries said in a joint statement after the meeting.

Further opening up of Indian markets to foreign portfolio investors was also discussed during the meeting.

“We look forward to the opening up of certain markets where US companies can continue to invest here. We discussed the importance of paying greater attention to transparency and debt sustainability and development lending in Asia and beyond,” PTI reported Mnuchin as saying.

The US committed its support to India in hosting a successful G20 summit in 2022. “India and the United States look forward to enhanced collaboration to address the challenges to global growth under the G20 Presidency of Saudi Arabia. As India gears up for the 2022 Presidency of the G20, the United States stands ready to support India in hosting a successful and focused Presidency,” the statement said.

The statement said India has demonstrated its support for action against non-compliant countries. In addition, India and the United States continue to work on developing AML/CFT frameworks to mitigate the associated illicit finance risks. Both sides will continue to collaborate and share experiences for tackling offshore tax evasion, it said.

“Our cooperation includes but is not limited to, information exchanges to combat global terrorist financing and to support the designation of specific terrorist facilitators and financiers, coordinating on AML/CFT and maintaining the integrity of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) global standards for AML/CFT,” the statement said.

It further said India and the US are working together to attract more private sector capital to finance India’s infrastructure needs and further raise growth for both countries. India has set up the National Infrastructure and Investment Fund (NIIF) to catalyze private institutional investment in Indian infrastructure, for which the United States has provided technical support.

“The United States helped the Indian city of Pune successfully launch municipal bonds in 2017 to finance local infrastructure needs to support the government’s Smart Cities initiative. India and the United States look forward to working together for preparing more cities to issue municipal bonds, including technical assistance, and to having a more broad-based relationship with respect to institutional investment into infrastructure in India,” it said.