India cannot sacrifice economic strength to comply with US sanctions: Sitharaman

New York, United StatesUpdated: Oct 16, 2019, 11:55 AM IST
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File Photo: FM Nirmala Sitharaman addresses a press conference. Photograph:(ANI)

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

India wants to comply with global sanctions, including US sanctions on Venezuela and Russia, but also needs to maintain its own strength and strategic interests, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in an interview on Tuesday.

The United States in January imposed the toughest sanctions yet on Venezuela's oil industry. The move has scared away some global customers, but with few alternative suppliers of heavy oil, Indian refiner Reliance Industries Ltd has been buying Venezuelan crude from Russian major Rosneft. The company is set to resume direct oil loadings in the South American nation after a four-month pause.

Sitharaman said the government has expressed its view to the United States.

"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," she said.

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

The International Monetary Fund earlier on Tuesday lowered its outlook for Indian growth in 2019, citing weaker-than-expected domestic demand. The US-China trade war will cut 2019 global growth to its slowest pace since the 2008/09 financial crisis, the IMF said.

India's gross domestic product grew at its weakest pace since 2013 between April and June, stoking expectations of further stimulus.

"Global headwinds ... are getting stronger by the day," Sitharaman said. Asked about further fiscal stimulus, she said, "I have not closed the door" on that.

New Delhi has been trying to boost domestic growth through an infrastructure package and a new loan programme organised with the banking sector that has doled out loans worth over 80,000 crore (8.7 billion pounds), she said.

The finance minister defended the government's move to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir in August.

The removal of the constitutional article that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir will boost the region and the country's economic potential, she said.