In a draft `handover letter' for next trade minister, Anand Sharma outlines what the priorities should be

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma has readied a draft ‘handover letter’ for his successor urging him/her to continue with the existing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) regime.

He also made a case for normalisation of economic relations with Pakistan for greater peace and prosperity of the region.

The letter, which will be handed over to the next Commerce and Industry Minister when he/she assumes office, stresses on the importance of market diversification, the crucial role played by India in the World Trade Organisation and the need to engage with East Asian and Asia Pacific countries, a Commerce Ministry official said. The Minister, who attended his last day in office on Thursday, pointed out that his Government had pursued a liberalised FDI policy and opened up crucial sectors of economy, including aviation, retail and telecom.

As a result, India received nearly $200 billion of foreign direct investment in the last five years and was rated amongst the top 3 investment destinations globally, he said.

“It is imperative for me to underscore that foreign investors need a reassurance on the stability and predictability of foreign investment regime in India. This would not only be in India’s national interest but it has been a healthy tradition of our democracy,” the draft letter said.

The results of the General Elections will be announced on Friday. According to the exit polls, the NDA, led by the BJP, is widely expected to form the next Government. The UPA, in its second term, took important steps in establishing better trade relations with Pakistan, which, Sharma said, the new Minister should continue. “It would be important to persist with this road map because I firmly believe that normalisation of economic relations with Pakistan lies at the heart of a peaceful South Asia,” the draft letter said.

The Minister also called for careful negotiations in the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership which will form the biggest trading bloc in the world. It includes the 10 countries of Asean, India, Japan, Korea, China, Australia and New Zealand.

(This article was published on May 15, 2014)
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