Seeking US investment in the Rs.40,000-crore NIIF, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said there is need to further increase bilateral trade between the two countries.
US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, in her meeting with Jaitley, too said the US wants to institutionalise the trade relations between the two countries to give it an impetus. There is "a great potential to increase the bilateral trade among the two nations", she said.
During the meeting, Jaitley drove home the point that many Indian states are growing at 10-11 per cent and offer opportunity for US investment.
"Both the leaders discussed issues relating to bilateral trade and measures to increase the trade," said a finance ministry statement.
Appreciating the passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill by Parliament, Pritzker hoped that it will boost economic activities in India.
"The trade dialogue by the state chief ministers with different US authorities can be given a structured shape in order to give impetus to the bilateral trade," Pritzker noted.
Jaitley, on his part, expressed India’s interest in increasing the bilateral trade and said most concerns between the two countries have been either resolved or narrowed down to a large extent.
CEOs of various Indian companies are in constant dialogue with their US counterparts for increased trade and investment among the two, he said.
The Indo-US trade stood at USD 109 billion last year.
Going further, Jaitley said the GST Bill was passed by both Houses of Parliament unanimously earlier this month.
He said eight states have already approved the Bill and hoped that the remaining will follow suit and the desired number of state ratifications can come in early next month.
Jaitley also spoke of the creation of the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) in which various US-based insurance, pension and endowment funds can invest, especially in the infrastructure sector that has great potential in India.
The government had set up the Rs.40,000-crore NIIF in December as an investment vehicle for funding commercially viable greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects. It was envisioned as a mother fund with several sectoral feeder funds.
The government is to contribute Rs.20,000 crore to the fund and the remaining Rs.20,000 crore is expected to be raised through sovereign wealth funds.
Pritzker is on a 3-day visit to India to preside over the Indo-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue.