India, US to finalize agreement on Inclusive Digital Economy

Hailing India’s emergence as a leader in inclusive economic growth, US ambassador said on Wednesday that it can play a leadership role in bolstering connectivity in South Asia. “It’s worth noting that India is emerging as a regional leader in creating policies to encourage inclusive economic growth. During his recent visit here, President (Barack) Obama commended Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi’s “Jan Dhan” Financial Inclusion initiative,” Verma said at a seminar here on South Asian connectivity.

Verma said inclusive policies at the institutional level can directly affect economic growth rates and improve financial stability and institutional integrity. “We got to see what it meant to the men and women there to have access to a modern biometric identification card,” said Verma about his last month visit to an Aadhaar Unique Identification Enrolment Centre in a small local fishing village outside Mumbai.

Verma said the US Agency for International Development (USAID)and the Modi government were finalising an agreement to establish a public-private partnership with key US, Indian and international organisations to create an inclusive digital economy.

“For India, Bangladesh and other countries in South Asia, domestic political sensitivities, corruption and bilateral irritants all present roadblocks for better regional connectivity.

“Here, India can rely on its tradition of peaceful democratic change and constructive dissent to play a leadership role in the region,” said Verma. Verma stressed on the need for inclusion of those who may feel excluded or alienated from the political process and pointed out that good economic governance, simpler and more transparent trade and economic policies were the keys to expanding trade in the region.

“This is one of the reasons, the US was so supportive of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) at the WTO. The TFA can break down trade barriers to create new opportunities. It is estimated to reduce the cost of trade by 10 percent for developed countries and up to 14 percent for developing countries.

“We are pleased to see the Modi government moving forward with implementing provisions of the TFA, like single window clearance. This initiative alone will benefit all traders as it reduces costs and delays at borders,” added Verma. (IANS)