Recently, the President of the United States visited India, the visit set to improve ties between the two nations on various fronts. It reflects the fact that world’s largest and oldest democracies held fast to a steady upward trajectory in their mutual engagement and moved from being an Estranged democracy (remain detached during cold war) to Strategic partners (in the post-cold war era).
Key-highlights of Summit
● India signed an agreement for the purchase of MH-60 Romeo helicopters which would worth around $2.5 billion dollar, thereby highlighting a significant increase in defence, military and technological cooperation.
● India’s Petronet LNG will invest in the American gas company Tellurians.
● Westinghouse in a commercial agreement will build 6 nuclear reactors in Andhra Pradesh.
● The much-hyped Trade deal was not signed between the two countries.
● On the Strategic front, both sides criticized indirectly the growing Chinese hegemony in South China Sea and Belt and Road Initiative.
Problems in India-US Relations
⮚ New-US Pakistan Equation:
o The current regime has signed a peace deal with Taliban which was made possible only after the Pakistan support.
o In return for that support the US has softened its stand on Pakistan terror activities, it is also not opposing the Pakistan bid to internationalize the Kashmir issue.
⮚ Interventionist US congress:
o The US congress has taken a strong stand against India, in the case of revocation of Article 370, new citizenship law and the NRC, which it believes challenges the India-US “shared values”.
o Though the US government official stand is in line with the Indian stand but
criticism from the US Congress and some parts of US civil society is pushing the US administration to tell India to bring Kashmir to normalcy and not go ahead with the new citizenship law followed by the NRC.
Areas of Cooperation
⇨ India is in a privileged category of NATO and non-NATO US allies.
⇨ Both countries have signed an Industrial Security Annex which allows for greater collaboration among both countries private defence industries.
⇨ Both countries have military agreement that allows for the sharing of encrypted communication and equipment.
⇨ India-US held tri-service military exercises.
⇨ India also forms the part of the US Maritime Security Initiative.
⇨ India-US holds 2+2 strategic dialogue at the ministerial level including Defence and External affairs minister.
⇨ The bilateral Strategic Energy Partnership was launched in April 2018 under which India has started importing crude and LNG from the US. Now, the US is India’s sixth-largest source of crude oil imports and hydrocarbons.
⇨ The USA also supports India’s endeavors against the terrorism emanating across the border. It played a crucial role in placing Pakistan in the grey-list of Financial Action Task Force.
⇨ Under the US Pivot to Asia policy India acts as an ideal balancer to check the aggressive rise of China. This has also led to creation of the concept of Indo-pacific
⇨ The US has designated India as an integral part of the Indo-pacific narrative by the conception of the Quad.
✔ There is a need to take concrete action on the Civil Nuclear deal signed between the two countries. Westinghouse proposal is a welcoming step in this regard.
✔ India need to cooperate more with the US as without the United States, the Indo-Pacific could become part of a new Chinese tributary system. With US presence the region has the chance of creating a more organic rules-based order.
✔ At the same it is in the interest of India to pursue strategic hedging as in International politics there are no permanent friends or enemies only common interest.
✔ To realize the full potential of relations, the two governments must now strive to complete the unfinished agreements and set the course for a Comprehensive Strategic Global Partnership.
India-US Trade Quagmire
Since 2016, when the new regime took over in the USA, the focus of the regime is on reducing its trade deficit with partnering nations.
With India, the US trade deficit stood at $25.2-billion (in 2018) is dwarfed by China’s corresponding figure of $346-billion.
The new administration targeted India by slapping national security tariff of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum imported from India in 2018.
In 2019, it also ended India’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). It has also been termed as “Tariff King”.
Major areas of contention include:
Agriculture and Dairy Sector
Intellectual Property Rights
Protection barriers to FDI
E-commerce and Data localization norms
The US also changed the status of India from developing to developed country.
India also has concerns about the restrictions on visas for highly skilled professionals seeking to take up employment in the U.S.
PEPPER IT WITH
Indo-US Defence relations, GSP, Quad, Energy Security