New Delhi, Oct.23 : The recent unequivocal India outreach stand of the United States to maintain balance in the geo-politics should have more economic thrust and content to ensure sustained positive policy architecture in the Asia Pacific, according to Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC).
"The bonhomie demonstrated by President Trump by celebrating Diwali in the White House, followed up by the blunt statement of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that India is the strongest and most reliable ally in the Asia Pacific region to purge terrorism and disruptive forces from the region and strong endorsement of India-US ties at the UN by the US's UN Ambassador Nikki Haley are pointers to a new and emerging partnership between India and the US. It is important to give a strong economic "heft and gravitas" to these developments to make it sustainable and enduring," said Vasant Subramanyan, National President, IACC.
In a statement issued today, IACC National President underscored four areas that need immediate attention by both countries to ensure heightened economic partnership. These are investments in infrastructure and logistics, manufacturing, technology and skill development, besides steps for augmenting bilateral trade.
Pitching for a more positive involvement of India initiated International North-South Trade Corridor (INSTC), which would connect India, Iran, and Russia and Central Asia, IACC felt that this ambitious projects should be backed more specifically and strongly by the US both in terms of geo-political and economic considerations. It has several advantages over the one which is being implemented by the Chinese-One Belt One Road (OBOR), designed to strengthen its geo-political and economic foothold in the Asia Pacific region. Many China watchers feel that OBOR is lock, stock and barrel an expression of Chinese supremacy in the region and that way, it has the undertones of a unilateral imposition of polices and concepts.
Unlike that, INSTC is not driven by any country and is a multilateral initiative, where every country in the group has the same liberty to espouse their development cause conforming to the tenets of the INSTC. "Importantly, US, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore have endorsed the INSTC. What we need now is an expression of interest by the US to use this as a platform for its economic presence in the region," IACC President observed, adding that India is the best allay in realizing that economic goal of the US.
Involvement of the US in connecting the region will unleash the economic potentials of the region and will help all stakeholders in the initiative. For instance, it will be a double whammy for the US. Apart from gaining strategic and geopolitical advantage, it can augment its economic presence in the region. The Chinese investments in the region are peaking and its every strategic move is crafted to realize its agenda to become the economic superpower and to tighten its hold in the regional geopolitical influence. India offers a pathway for the US to make its economic presence in the region and to meet the developmental imperatives of the nations in the region," the IACC president said.
Significantly, in its latest response to the evolving relationship between India and the US, Chinese response seems to be calibrated and more diplomatic by terming the development of relations positive as long as they are conducive to the peaceful development of the region and enhancement of relations among the countries in the region. The economic rationale of the statement is clear. Some of the Chinese owned or controlled corporations are investing in India in various sectors including infrastructure, energy, particularly renewable, hybrid technologies for mobility and in installing equipment for pollution control etc. Some of these companies are operating out from the US and they stand to gain immensely from augmenting economic partnership between India and the US.
Against the backdrop of an ambitious target set by both countries to take the bilateral trade to USD 500 billion by 2022, IACC suggested that the US can respond to the initiative of the Indian administration to import crude oil from the US first time after 40 years as a sequel to the clarion call by the Trump Administration to buy the US products globally. Also, the US has become the top importer of defense equipment to India. The US can reciprocate this gesture in many ways. For instance, it can set up medical devices manufacturing units in India along the medical devices parks, which are coming up in different parts of India, not only for catering to the domestic market but also for buy back and third country exports. India can considerably enhance its exports to the US items like generic medicines, formula medicines, chemicals etc, where the US is already importing from India.
Taking advantage of various policy initiatives taken by the Indian administration under Make in India, Digital India programs etc, many corporations have come forward to invest in India in sectors like hybrid mobility, web based technologies, telecom ( particularly Apple Computers), high speed rail locomotives, cyber security, renewable energy, hardware and agriculture. More and more US corporations can focus on these sectors in India, particularly from the SME sector, where the handholding and investments between the two countries have yet to pick up.
India is committed to move up in the technology value chain. The focus on R&D in the country is unprecedented whether it is in the IT, biotech, genome, data mining and analytics, molecular science etc. Startups and incubators are springing up in India more than ever before. The US is already taking advantage of the R&D facilities in the country by setting up centers in India. These are mostly confined to IT, telecom and pharmaceuticals. The US can relocate R&D centers to India in fields like artificial intelligence, sensors, robotics, design engineering, Internet of Things (IOTs) , where India's highly trained technical manpower can blend with US technologies to create newer paradigms in the upward moving technology curve.
Training and skill development are another avenues that are opened to both countries to co-operate and collaborate. Innovations in artificial intelligence are increasingly disrupting technologies and the type of expertise needed to handle such technologies is changing fast. The US has a shortage of manpower to handle such jobs that need highly skilled people with a lot of imagination and perseverance. India has proved that it has a competitive advantage in meeting such exacting professional standards. " It is important to have a bilateral arrangement for training people for the high end jobs and to create a band of technologists, who can help move up in the technology value chain," said Subramanyan.
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