The U.S. Department of the Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs Lael Brainard is visiting India this week to highlight the growing economic partnership between the United States and India and to discuss how trade and investment presents dramatic and expanding opportunities to create high-quality jobs in both countries. The trip also focuses on the key role women play in India’s growth trajectory.
On Wednesday, outside the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India, Brainard visited Mann Deshi Bank, a regulated cooperative bank run by and for women. Founded in 1997 by Chetna Sinha, Mann Deshi was India’s first rural financial institution to receive a cooperative license from the Reserve Bank of India. Today, with more than 100,000 customers, Mann Deshi is the largest microfinance bank in Maharashtra and a pioneer in micro-financing, offering its clients individual and group loans, savings and pension plans.
While there, Brainard saw the bank’s Freedom Ride Program, which provides bicycles to young girls to enable them to travel to school and continue their education. She also met with young women participating in the Mann Deshi Foundation’s Mobile Business School Program, which provides financial literacy courses, computer literacy and livelihood training from a bus that travels from village to village and learned about their participation in the bank’s daily savings program.
On Thursday, the Brainard toured a cell phone tower on the outskirts of Delhi to highlight how multilateral development bank assistance and U.S. export credit agencies are advancing environmentally sustainable economic development in India and helping create new markets for U.S. manufactured technology. The site visit showcased how Indian entrepreneurs are replacing diesel generators with a solar hybrid solution as the power source for cell towers. Key components of the solar solution are manufactured in the U.S. As part of the visit, she met with business leaders from the mobile communication, cell phone tower and solar power sectors to discuss the growing opportunity for U.S. and Indian businesses in the solar technology market.
Brainard also joined leaders in the financial sector for a discussion on global economic and financial sector developments, as well as the domestic economic climate and opportunities and challenges for progress on the country’s economic reform agenda. During the meeting, she expressed strong support for a new Indian School of Business initiative aimed at increasing understanding on the need for deeper capital markets for continued private sector growth and infrastructure financing. Before departing, she joined Chanda Kochhar, chief executive officer of ICICI Bank Ltd. for a discussion on the growing opportunities in U.S-India economic and trade relations at a forum hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry.
“Because of our shared interests and values, President Obama believes the relationship between the United States and India will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century,” said Brainard. “I’m in India this week for the first of many visits to help translate that vision of partnership into reality in the financial realm. Vibrant and sound financial markets help families reach their aspirations and achieve their dreams, as much as they help individual nations and the global community build and sustain growth. Together, from the rural towns to the big cities of our countries, we have an enormous amount to gain from working in partnership.”
On Thursday afternoon, Brainard met with women leaders spearheading change across diverse sectors of Indian society before meeting with senior government officials including Reserve Bank of India Governor Duvvuri Subbarao and Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh to discuss a range of bilateral and global issues including the G-20 framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth and climate change.
On Friday, Brainard will deliver a keynote address at the Institute of International Finance’s spring membership meeting, highlighting the U.S.-India Economic and Financial Partnership, near-term challenges facing the global economy and priority areas for policy coordination.
In addition, Brainard will attend a sub-cabinet meeting of the U.S.-India Economic and Financial Partnership to review progress and next steps on areas of cooperation, including macroeconomic policy issues, financial sector reforms and infrastructure finance. The Partnership aims to deepen the bilateral economic relationship between the United States and India.