Thank you, Anand, for that warm introduction and for moderating today’s discussion. It is a pleasure to make my first visit to India as Treasury Secretary and I appreciate all of you joining us here today and I want to thank the Confederation of Indian Industry and the U.S.-India Business Council for organizing this event.
Let me start by saying a few words about the U.S. economy. Over the past five years, our private sector has created more than 11 million jobs. Last year alone, American businesses created nearly 3 million jobs and the unemployment rate is now 5.7 percent.
At the same time, GDP posted strong gains in the second and third quarters last year, and many private forecasters project above-trend economic growth to continue. Our overall growth has been supported by increases in household wealth, a gradually improving housing market, a growing manufacturing sector, and a flourishing auto industry.
The growth we are experiencing in the United States is good for India, just as growth in India is good for the United States. And, India and the United States are two important drivers of global growth.
India and the United States have an important partnership and share both strong economic ties and personal ties between the peoples of our two nations.
When the President visited earlier this month, he noted that our two business communities have been some of the strongest champions for a closer U.S.-India relationship, and I absolutely agree. The entrepreneurial spirit, vibrant private sectors, and commitment to economic growth and job creation are the cornerstones of the U.S.-India economic relationship.
Furthermore, trade between our two countries is at a record high — nearly $100 billion a year. Strengthening growth in both India and the United States will mean more demand, and more opportunities, for firms and workers in both our nations.
That is why the fifth U.S.-India Economic and Financial Partnership meeting, which takes place tomorrow in Delhi, is so important. Through the Economic and Financial Partnership, we will support India’s growth and reform efforts and encourage greater opening of India’s economy to U.S. firms.
This dialogue is an important vehicle for bilateral engagement with India on a range of economic policy issues.
Specifically, I hope we can work together to deepen capital markets to unlock domestic resources and welcome foreign investment into India; strengthen financial regulatory reform; improve our coordination on tax issues; and combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
We applaud Prime Minister Modi’s vision and recent efforts. Before arriving to this event, I visited a Unique Identification Enrollment Center in Koli Village. This initiative underscores how increasing active participation in an economy helps promote growth and prosperity. And, together we can do more to help ensure shared growth, promote job creation, and strengthen demand. These will all be important topics discussed during my visit, and beyond.
I look forward to hearing from you about the business climate here in India and in the United States and what we can do to move both of our economies forward and closer together.