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Resolve land acquisition, FDI issues to set up smart cities: US

The US today asked India to resolve land acquisition problems and address issues concerning foreign direct investment for attracting funds for smart city projects.

“…right now we are very much in the nascent stage of finding ways forward with India on smart cities issues. We do not have clarity on financing for the many projects that need to be done,” US Ambassador Richard Verma said. In order to be successful, Indian state and central governments as well as the industry will need to take the lead in providing finances for smart cities, he said, adding

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“Land acquisition, foreign direct investment and other questions still remain unresolved. The expectation of large amounts of private sector finance, either domestic or foreign will be a challenge. These concerns mean many projects may not be commercially viable at the outset,” Verma said.He was speaking at the annual general meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham).

Verma said the challenge for the US government and companies will be to work with Indian partners on creative approaches to develop appropriate, long term financing that will help realise these ambitious plans. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a vision of developing 100 smart cities as satellite towns of larger cities and by modernising the existing mid­sized cities. On the two­way commerce, the US Ambassador said trade in goods and services between the two countries is growing and has crossed USD 100 billion.
“Fifteen years ago, our bilateral trade in goods and services stood at USD 19 billion. I am happy to share that…our bilateral trade in goods and services finally crossed that elusive USD 100 billion threshold last year and now stands at about USD 103 billion,” he said.
He added that the US is ready to work with India to increase the trade to USD 500 billion. “If we achieve this goal sometime in the next several years, our economic relationship will be 25 times larger than it was just fifteen years ago. Right now, US and Indian ventures create over a million jobs in India and tens of thousands in the US,” Verma said. He said that another five­fold increase will link the livelihoods of millions of new workers in the US and India to the success of the India­US partnership.
On the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), he said “a high standard” agreement would further enhance investor confidence. “We are also working hard to assess the prospects for moving forward with a high­standard BIT. Our teams met at the end of March to discuss India’s draft model text… India has already signed on to high­standard investment protection with other strategic partners such as Japan in 2010, so we know it is possible and doable,” Verma added

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