India-United States trade deal must be top priority for Biden administration

Asserting that the long due US-India mini trade deal should be on top of agenda of the incoming Biden administration, US India Business Council president Nisha Desai Biswal has said that the ties between the two nations continued to be "strong and vibrant" and 2021 will provide important opportunities to broaden and deepen this partnership.

India and the US are negotiating a deal to iron out differences on trade issues to boost economic ties.

"The US-India relationship has continued to be strong and vibrant. That has been the case in the prior administration, in the current administration and I'm confident in the next one as well,” USIBC president Biswal told PTI in a year-end interview on Thursday, noting that the year 2020 started with the "strong and robust" visit of President Donald Trump to India.

Despite the fact that the US and India weren't able to see a mini trade deal launched, they did see that the robust strategic partnership was continuing to be advanced throughout the year, she said.

Be it the defence ties, close coordination between the US and India on regional and global challenges, the third 2+2 ministerial or further strengthening of the QUAD grouping (India, the US, Japan and Australia) in the Indo-Pacific, the bilateral has continued to strengthen, Biswal noted.

"Unfortunately, we haven't seen the same level of progress on the trade front. That is something that both countries will need to reflect on...2021 perhaps (would) provide some important opportunities to broaden the US-India partnership, continue the deep strategic convergence and broaden the partnership to reflect on some additional areas of opportunity," she said.

Biswal, who in her capacity as Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia was one of the prime drivers of the India-US ties during the second term of the Obama administration, observed that the Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the importance that the two nations work together not only for the benefit of their own people but globally as well.

Climate change, one of the main focus areas of the Biden administration, would be another key area of cooperation between India and the US in the next administration, she said.

India, Biswal noted, has made tremendous investments in clean energy, in solar and renewable.

Responding to a question, Biswal said while the two countries have not been able to advance the trade deal, they did make some significant progress on a number of policy issues which support increased trade and investment in the US-India corridor.

This has been an important year for advancing a number of key economic reforms. However, it is unfortunate that the two nations were not been able to sign the trade deal, despite having put a lot of time and efforts, she said.

Dr. Dhillon Randeep

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