Skip to comments.India did not achieve much from the Trump visit| Opinion: The trip was meant for his domestic Indian diaspora. None of India’s national concerns have been addressed by him
Posted on 02/27/2020 9:55:05 AM PST by NobleFree
The visit of the United States (US) President Donald Trump will be remembered for its extravaganza apart from the ostensible chemistry between the two leaders. The visit also resulted in upgrading the India-US partnership to the level of a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership. The $3-billion defence deal saw India purchase Apache and MH-60R helicopters: A deal to benefit the US military establishment, and upgrading our security environment.
Bilateral relationships bloom only when both sides understand and sympathise with each others concerns. Let us list some of Indias concerns that were left unaddressed by the US: First, we were hoping for a big and comprehensive trade deal, a win-win for both sides. That was not in the offing. Closing such a deal by the end of the year seems highly unlikely. Second, there was no forward movement in the outstanding H1B visa issue and a totalisation agreement. Third, Trump no longer regards India as a developing country. This provides him the rationale for removing India from the list of countries benefited by the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which allows for lower tariff for Indias products exported to the US. Trump was not persuaded to revisit that issue.
Trump continues to repeat that India was the highest tariff country in the world, and that the US has to be treated fairly. The US wishlist includes lowering our tariffs and allowing for market access to US milk, dairy and meat products, a demand India has resisted so far. But our inability to source crude oil from Iran because of US sanctions has burdened us with increased costs for importing crude from the US. The president also hoped for larger investments of Indian businesses in the US and increased oil and gas supplies to bridge the gaping trade deficit.
In fact, none of our national concerns have been addressed by the US. The presidents hurricane visit was meant for his domestic Indian diaspora constituency to garner support from a community that has in the past tilted towards the Democrats. To say that the visit was extraordinary and that Modi is a nice man who is doing a fantastic job means little when looked at from the prism of our national interest.
From the perspective of Indias standing in this part of the world and Trumps endorsement of New Delhis position, again the outcome was less than desirable. On Pakistan, Trump reiterated his willingness to mediate on Kashmir, chose not to criticise Pakistan, claiming Prime Minister Imran Khan is his good friend. On the issue of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in India, Trump said that the US could not be counted upon to take any action across 8,000 miles. Clearly, the US is not willing to take sides and India is left on its own to deal with Pakistan in the manner that it chooses. While we believe that we have the capacity to punish Pakistan for any misadventure in India, Trumps statement is hardly any reflection of the warmth of the relationship between the two countries.
In fact, in all the actions of the US running up to the visit of the president and during his stay, one got the feeling that for him America first is a national commitment and friendship with India is conditional upon that. Given the fact that there is likelihood of an agreement between the US and the Taliban in Afghanistan, there was no clarity about Indias role. Given such a deal, Indias position is likely to become even more vulnerable.
Trump gave a veiled warning with reference to the importance of a secure 5G wireless network. He called this network a technology tool for freedom, progress, prosperity where it could be even conceived as a conduit for suppression and censorship. We are aware that the US neither allowed ZTE nor Huwaei to participate in its 5G wireless network. Trumps statement sought to guide our policy prescriptions by hinting at a possible threat to Indias security if the 5G network were to be laid by Huwaei or ZTE.
President Trump knows where his countrys national interest lies. He wants US troops out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible to make it a talking point in the upcoming presidential election. He has made no commitments on behalf of his administration in combating the increasing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region. He is also aware that India is not a vassal State, which will willingly subjugate its national interest by allowing large-scale US naval presence in this part of the world. Trump wants the trade deficit to be reduced, Indian tariffs to be lowered and US goods, especially agricultural produce, to be accessible to Indian markets.
On top of that, Trump will bat for expanding online networks of multinationals with deep American commercial interests. E-commerce is a new tool to capture one of the largest markets in the world. Has Trump moved even an inch in sympathising with Indias national concerns? The chemistry between the two leaders is the governments single achievement.
Kapil Sibal is former Union Cabinet minister The views expressed are personal
$3 Billion Helicopter deal doesn’t help India?
It helps, just not the Deep State wannabees who seek the leadership positions and have a platform to bray from
one got the feeling that for him America first is a national commitment and friendship with India is conditional upon that.
There is something wrong with that?
India already has a huge trade surplus with the US. They also benefit greatly from our generous current H1B program.
What the heck is this guy complaining about?
there is much more at stake than your narrow view of labor.
India has been sucking up with Russia and dissing us for a long time. Maybe India should rethink theor positions?
NAH! Gib us stuff!
Not only the helicopter deal, but the much broader opening of taking a larger share of our overseas trading partnership AWAY from China, and addressing an alternate source and market for our many agricultural and heavy manufacturing goods.
Useful as the China trade policy has been to a sizable number of entrepreneurs, the United States is in a vulnerable position because of overdependence on that source. Just this coronavirus thing shows one of the more benign ways that the US may be negatively impacted in the short term, because we cannot quickly switch supply chains.
And we ARE changing the supply chains, albeit probably far too slowly to avoid some negative impact right now.
“Let us list some of Indias concerns that were left unaddressed by the US: ... Second, there was no forward movement in the outstanding H1B visa issue and a totalisation agreement.”
The only “totalisation” I’m interested in, Kabil, is for all the work visa holders to go home and be replaced by native born Americans.
(Also, not to be stuck with “Steve” in a New Delhi call center when I want someone who speaks English as their first language.)
Kapil Sibal...I bet that’s the guy who is always “calling me about my computer”. He told me his name was “Bob”.
India doesn’t just have high tariff and non-tariff barriers - it’s also got a government well-known for screwing foreign investors. India’s market is locked up tight, and this tradition of autarky combined with arbitrariness is why most foreign investors have shied away from investing significant sums there. 40+ years ago, India had a higher nominal per capita GDP than China. Today, China’s number is 4x India’s.
And these GDP numbers are reflected in car sales - 2.9m for India in 2019, and 25.8m for China in the same year:
This guy is complaining? We already let India rape us on trade, immigration and outsourcing.
“This guy is complaining? We already let India rape us on trade, immigration and outsourcing.”
Complaining just like China.
“...one got the feeling that for him America first is a national commitment and friendship with India is conditional upon that.”
Yeah, Kapil, exactly right. And we like that a LOT.
My view on labor is what our President said: "Hire American!" How is that "narrow"?
Hey India- You’re responsible for your OWN Country- Any help we give is above and beyond your responsibilities- how about a little thanks for the help we do give? Fix your own national issues- We have our own problems to deal with!
Your narrow view excludes the days spent in discussions and negotiations on many other subjects. The president has a broad mind that encompasses a world of ideas beyond your narrow views limited to one Presidential sentence.
I’m supposed to care? India can’t solve it’s own problems? Why the hell is the American taxpayer supposed to bail out the rest of the world?
“there was no forward movement in the outstanding H1B visa issue and a totalisation agreement”
Isn’t it fascinating that one of the major whines of a foreign country is that we take their citizens in mass numbers?
Either we get to colonize you or we don’t buy stuff from you.
Novel interpretation of “free trade”.
You really want to get your blood pressure up? Go to You Tube. There is a site called ‘’Asian Boss’’. 20 and 30 something year old Indians who think America is just the worst country on Earth and Americans are all bloody racists but God Almighty do they all want to come here for ‘’a better life’’.
Not “Extended News.” Should be moved to Editorial.
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