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16 Oct, 2019 01:04

India puts own economic welfare ahead of US sanctions & pressure – Finance Minister

India puts own economic welfare ahead of US sanctions & pressure – Finance Minister

India would like to comply with US sanctions, but the strength of its economy and its strategic interests must come first, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated, explaining that a true partner would want India to be strong.

In specific issues which are critical for India's strategic interests, we have explained to the United States that India is a strategic partner for the United States of America and you want a strategic partner to be strong and not weakened,” Sithamaran told Reuters on Tuesday.

We value the strong partnership with the USA, but we should equally be allowed to have a strong economy.

Indian oil refiner Reliance Industries is set to resume buying Venezuelan oil after a four-month hiatus, despite the tightest-ever US sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry, citing a paucity of other suppliers of heavy oil. The US-China trade war has taken a toll on India’s economy, leading the International Monetary Fund to lower its outlook for the country’s growth in 2019, highlighting slow domestic demand.

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The country’s GDP growth is at its most sluggish since 2013, and Sithamaran told Reuters she “ha[d] not closed the door” on further fiscal stimulus after passing an infrastructure package and a $11.1 billion loan program.

However, removing the special status of the contested Jammu and Kashmir region and integrating it with the rest of India will improve the economic outlook of both the province and the entire country, she said. Sithamaran dismissed the concerns of human rights groups complaining about conditions in the region, pointing out that they had been silent for decades despite the poor treatment of women, certain castes, and nomadic tribes in the area.

Earlier this month, Indian PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Chennai to discuss strategic cooperation, with Modi declaring it “the start of a new era in India-China relations.” The US and China reached a tentative “phase one” trade deal last week, potentially signaling the end of the 18-month trade war that has decimated global growth for 2019, though the deal has yet to be put to paper.

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