U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has urged India to cut bureaucracy to help attract more foreign investment as it seeks to sustain economic growth and create jobs.
Entrepreneurs need the freedom to pursue new ideas "without a lot of red tape," Kerry said in a speech at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. Regulations should be streamlined and sensible, he said.
"You have to able to operate under conditions that attract investment capital – whether it's foreign capital or domestic capital," Kerry told students. "You have to have a market defined by fairness, transparency, you have to have a level playing field."
The speech was part of Kerry's effort to capitalize on the improving U.S.-Indian relationship to further open up a market where access for American companies has been limited.
Kerry cast the need to open up as crucial if India wants to maintain the 7.6 percent annualized growth it posted through March and remain the fastest-growing major economy. He said it was "unacceptable" that South Asia remains the least interconnected market in the world.
"Even though we are witnessing impressive gains in India's economic growth, there is still a real question as to whether we are doing so quickly enough – and that comes down to some basic arithmetic: in order just to keep pace, India has to create 13 million jobs a year," Kerry said. "By any standards, that is no easy task."
Kerry was in Delhi for the annual Strategic and Commercial Dialogue. On Tuesday, the two countries agreed to new steps, including U.S. financing for a better power grid and a cyber-security framework.