Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday India-US relations have grown “far stronger and far matured” over decades and in the spirit of bipartisan support it enjoys in both countries, it would be a “great privilege” for New Delhi to continue working with the new Donald Trump administration.
Jaitley, who is here for the annual spring meetings of the World Bank group, met US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday, in the first cabinet-level meeting with the Trump administration. He will meet treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday.
“The India-US relationship over the last few decades has significantly improved. It is far stronger, it is far matured,” Jaitley said at a dinner hosted by ambassador Navtej Sarna. “It has defied changes in the government whether in the US or in India.”
He added: “In one sense it is a bipartisan relationship. I am sure it will be a great privilege for us to continue to work with the new administration to strengthen the various dimensions of this relationship.”
There have been a series of meetings between Indian officials and Trump administration officials and cabinet members since the new president took office — including phone calls between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trump.
In addition, national security adviser H R McMaster became the first high-ranking Trump official to visit India earlier this week at the end of his three-nation tour of South Asia, after he visited Afghanistan and Pakistan. He met Modi.
In his meeting with Ross, Jaitley raised the issue of the Trump administration’s review of the H-1B temporary visa programme for high-skilled foreigners that is expected to adversely impact Indians and Indian tech firms operating in the US.
New Delhi has said it will be watching the review closely.
The finance minister used the opportunity to give an update on the India economic growth saying, “In the last three years even in the midst of a slowdown across the world, India has been able to grow in the range of seven to eight per cent.”
And that, he added, could get a “significant boost”, as economists are expecting when the new Goods and Services Tax legislation will be implemented around the middle of the year.