US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had a one-on-one meeting at Writers Buildings today.
The subjects discussed during their 45-minute meeting were not disclosed,but the FDI issue is thought to have come up. Writers Buildings officials said that Powell is believed to have asked Mamata why she was so opposed to FDI in retail trade. However,there was no official confirmation in this regard either from the West Bengal government or the US authorities.
The meeting comes on the heels of the Trinamool Congress withdrawing support to the UPA II to protest its decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail.
The US government has for many years been insisting on opening up Indias retail market for foreign companies. Although the Centres notification allowing FDI in retail has given US multinationals several reasons to cheer,there are still some areas of concern for the US authorities. Even after giving its nod to FDI,the Centre has said that it is the state governments which will determine whether of not they will allow FDI in their respective areas.
The decision to allow FDI in retail will attract many US companies like Walmart in India. Since West Bengals economy has grown fast in the last few years,the US also wants entry of FDI in Bengals retail market. However,Mamata has made it clear that she will not allow FDI in Bengal.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had met Mamata on May 7. Following the meeting,Mamata has told the press that the US wanted Bengal as a partner for investment.
Even though Mamata had categorically said that FDI in retail trade was not discussed at the meeting,the US authorities had claimed just the opposite. Finance Minister Amit Mitra had written a letter to the US authorities urging them to withdraw the statement.