India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. s. Jaishankar during his recent visit to the US stated that India and the United States would be able to resolve their trade disputes. Observing that the two countries are dealing with multiple, parallel realities when it comes to trade issues, he said the first reality is that a lot of these problems pre-existed. They become much more “sort of central” because the current administration in the US puts certain salience on these sets of issues. President Donald Trump has been critical of India’s high tariffs on American products. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will be holding trade talks with his Indian counterpart Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal in a few weeks in New Delhi. The US is seeking access to India’s dairy market, removal of medical devices from price regulation and rollback of ICT tariffs; in return India is seeking re-entry to a zero-duty preferential US trade programme called the GSP.
After his meeting with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Dr. Jaishankar stated that trade talks between India and the US have progressed and he was confident that there would be an agreement soon. He clarified that the negotiations are taking time as trade deals are not simple arithmetic and they involve a number of variables. Apart from the trade dispute, the two ministers discussed a range of issues, including the growing Indo-US strategic relationship, developments in Kashmir, and global issues of concern. They also discussed plans to advance the visions of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. This was the fourth meeting between the two and comes close to the successful visit of Prime Minister Modi to the US for the UNGA meeting.
During his visit, the Indian External Affairs Minister also put forth India’s viewpoint on global issues to a number of prominent think tanks in the US. His visit to seven think tanks highlighted that India is keen to widen the vision on its engagements on international issues beyond the government officials. While the issue of Jammu and Kashmir was discussed during these meetings, the Minister highlighted that revocation of Article 370 is India’s internal matter and development of the state is of primary importance for India. India’s strategy was to reason with people and get them to understand why the decisions were for their long-term benefit. Till that happens, India will take precautions.
Dr. Jaishankar asserted that Pakistan needs to address the issue of cross border terrorism for peace in the region. During his talks with Secretary Pompeo, he also highlighted that India has “good case” to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and a UNSC without India affects the United Nation’s credibility. He further elaborated that the 21st century world is increasingly becoming multipolar and is unlikely to return to bipolarity, predicting that a strategic appreciation of the emerging global landscape would bring India and the US closer. Preparing for a more competitive and complex era will require a different mindset and for a nation like India, it would be in addition to changes induced by its climb up the global power hierarchy. He stated that as India exerts itself more on the global arena, it will articulate ideas and seek support from the international community such as on climate change, terrorism and inclusive development.
Speaking at the Library of Congress in Washington DC on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi; the External Affairs Minister said, if there is one challenge that Gandhiji would have liked us to focus on, that would be combating climate change. Through a mix of policy and advocacy, India is on way to reach the target of 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022. The ambition is to establish 450 GW of renewable capacity by 2030. The fight against climate change is much larger than just renewable energy and greater energy efficiency. It involves a virtual overhaul of peoples’ lifestyle, whether it be smarter cities, mass transportation, sustainable agriculture or water usage.
Script: Dr. Stuti Banerjee, Strategic Analyst on American Affairs