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US lists rise of China as challenge before India; wants free flow of goods, capital, data

Trade between the US and India in 2018 touched USD 142 billion but the economic partnership is yet to realise its full potential.

PTI|
Oct 14, 2019, 03.46 PM IST
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Trade between the US and India in 2018 touched USD 142 billion but the economic partnership is yet to realise its full potential.
As India and the US negotiate a free trade agreement, Washington on Monday said it wants free and fair trade along with free flow of goods, services, capital, and data as it went on to list rise of China alongside dealing with terrorism and promoting economic growth as challenges before India.

US Ambassador to India Kenneth I. Juster speaking at the India Energy Forum of CERAWeek, said there have been from time to time "challenges, frustrations, and ups and downs" in India-US relations but the two nations have made remarkable progress.

Trade between the US and India in 2018 touched USD 142 billion but the economic partnership is yet to realise its full potential "due in part to frictions related to trade and investment," he said.

"We look forward to Minister of Commerce Goyal and US Trade Representative Lighthizer continuing their efforts to resolve some of our differences. We sincerely believe that an increasingly open Indian economy will produce more jobs for Indians, help integrate India into the global supply chain, accelerate economic growth, and promote India as an attractive destination for investment in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly as companies reconsider their ties to China," he said.

Last month, the two nations failed to announce a limited trade deal in New York during the meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump, due to still prevailing differences over the package including access Washington sought to Indian markets for medical devices, such as stents and knee implants, information and communications technology (ICT) products and dairy products with the removal of price caps.

India is keen on a fair and reasonable trade deal in which its request for market access is secured while also addressing the trade deficit issue raised by the US.

The US Ambassador said some of the strategic challenges India will face over the next decade include managing the rise of China, dealing with terrorism, modernizing the military, promoting economic growth, and ensuring secure supplies of energy.

"One of the most important developments in international affairs is the rise of China as a global power. A rising China, under any scenario, presents challenges to India and the Indo-Pacific region. As the leaders of the United States, India, and like-minded countries such as Japan have thought about the future of this region, they have each articulated a vision and set of principles for a free and open Indo-Pacific," he said.

The principles, he said, include "an open and inclusive rules-based order, which respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries" and "guarantee freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight, and freedom of commerce."

"We want free and fair trade, and the free flow of goods, services, capital, and data," he said. "We want territorial and maritime disputes to be resolved peacefully, in accordance with international law. And we want a region with private sector-led growth, transparent commercial practices, and secure supplies of energy."

Based on these principles, the United States, India, and other like-minded countries will need to work together over the next decade to build out a supporting architecture for the Indo-Pacific region, he said.

On terrorism, he said the US and India have both suffered terrible terrorist attacks in recent years, as have too many other countries.

"Now, state-sponsored terrorism by Iran is affecting the security of India's energy supplies. Iran's recent attacks on refineries in Saudi Arabia and shipping in the Gulf present a new threat, and it is in the interest of the United States, India, and others to address it. In short, eliminating the scourge of terrorism is a key challenge for a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and for ensuring energy security," he said.

Stating that India is projected to spend as much as USD 150 billion on military modernization over the next decade, he said the nation will find no better defence partner than the US.

"The United States does not just offer great hardware. We also have the software and integrated networks needed for national defence. After all, it is no longer the case in today's world that armies fight armies or navies fight navies," he said.

The diplomat said India can only generate the resources necessary for its military modernization through sustained economic growth and secure supplies of energy. "And the United States wants to be a major partner in India's economic growth and development."

On energy cooperation, he said about 5 per cent of total US LNG exports over the past three years have gone to India and there is "much more room" for growth.

"Finally, we are hoping that Westinghouse will be able to conclude an agreement with the Government of India for the construction of six nuclear reactors, which also could have a significant positive impact on India's energy supply, environment, and security," he said.

For India to nearly double its size of the economy to USD 5 trillion in the next four to five years, it needs secure sources and sufficient amounts of energy, he said. "We look to expand our trade and economic relationship with India and build a more comprehensive energy partnership. These actions will benefit not just our two countries, but the broader region and the world."
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