New UK parliamentary panel to promote trade, investment ties with India

Source: Economic Times, 27 July 2022

A new cross-party UK parliamentary panel has been created to promote trade, investment and people-to-people ties with India, backed up by British Indian think tank 1928 Institute.

The India (Trade and Investment) All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) was formally registered last week as part of celebrations of the 75th anniversary of India’s independence and is made up of 25 members of Parliament and peers of different political affiliations.

With a stated goal to promote trade and investment between India and the UK for the mutual betterment of their citizens, whilst building an inclusive living bridge between the two countries, the new APPG hopes to support the ongoing India-UK free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations and promote its benefits once concluded.

“Given 75 years of India’s Independence, the creation of an All-Party Parliamentary Group focused on India will set the tempo between the UK Parliament and India/Indians,” said Navendu Mishra, Indian-origin Opposition Labour Party MP for Stockport in north-west England and Co-Chair of the new APPG.

“Investment in people is the best way to ensure economic stability and this APPG intends to benefit the peoples of both the UK and India. In particular, I’m looking forward to bringing investment to Stockport and to the Greater Manchester region, both from stronger cultural ties and from utilising the trade agreement,” he said.

“Furthermore, what better way to celebrate the 75 years of Independence then to strengthen the living bridge between the countries and to solidify an equal partnership between these two great nations,” he added.

From trips across different parts of Britain to visits to India, the India (Trade & Investment) APPG said it will work with diverse stakeholders and encourage beneficial collaborations.

“It’s a new chapter in the story of the Indo-British trade partnership and I’ll be working tirelessly to ensure that we get the best possible FTA and that it is utilised after. The group’s establishment coincides with the 75th year of India’s Independence and it will be a parliamentary driving force behind the UK-India story in the years to come,” said Lord Karan Bilimoria, Indian-origin businessman and Co-Chair of the APPG.

“This APPG will be the conduit which not only connects UK and Indian policymakers but connects businesses and entrepreneurs to drive growth. The APPG will ensure that dialogue and engagement will cut across all levels of business, particularly encouraging a wider lens on female led business and start-ups,” added Baroness Sandy Verma, the President of the new group.

The APPG is chaired by Conservative Party MP Bob Blackman and includes other Indian-origin parliamentarians as vice-chairs, including Lord Meghnad Desai, Baroness Usha Prashar, Labour MP Virendra Sharma and Tory MP Gagan Mohnidra.

“We are honoured to facilitate the APPG as its Secretariat and look forward to collaborating with diverse partners to champion trade, investment, and development,” said the 1928 Institute, a University of Oxford spinout focussed on Indian diaspora research in the UK.

“We intend to create an energised, inclusive, and pluralistic space to accelerate the improvement of material conditions for all. Our vision spans opportunities from Pembrokeshire to Punjab, and we encourage you to get in touch to help shape this nascent space,” it said.

The new APPG will officially kick-start its activities when Parliament resumes after its summer recess under a new Prime Minister in September.

APPGs are informal, cross-party groups in the UK formed by MPs and members of the House of Lords who share a common interest in a particular policy area, region or country and have no official status within Parliament.

PM Modi to attend I2U2 virtual summit

Source: Economic Times, 14 July 2022

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join US President Joe Biden, Israeli PM Yair Lapid and UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the first virtual summit of the four-nation grouping ‘I2U2’ on Thursday. The leaders are expected to discuss joint economic projects to bolster economic cooperation under the framework of the coalition.

The grouping is known as ‘I2U2’ with “I” standing for India and Israel and “U” for the US and the UAE.

The global food and energy crisis arising out of the Ukraine conflict is likely to figure prominently in the talks.

The virtual summit is likely to begin around 4 pm.

“The leaders will discuss the possible joint projects within the framework of ‘I2U2’ as well as the other common areas of mutual interest to strengthen the economic partnership in trade and investment in our respective regions and beyond,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Tuesday.

The I2U2 grouping was conceptualised during the meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries held on October 18 last year.

India’s bilateral strategic ties with each of the three countries are on an upswing in the last few years.

New Australian government supports trade pact with India: Piyush Goyal

Source: Economic Times, 13 July 2022

The new Australian government supports the trade pact signed with India, and they are expected to soon approach their parliament for approval of the agreement, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has said. India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) signed in April needs ratification by Australian parliament before its implementation.

“I met minister Mr Don Farrell, who looks after trade in the new (Australian) government, and he has confirmed that they will be taking the Indus-ECTA to parliament very soon and they support the agreement and would like to further expand their engagement with India in the months and years to come,” Goyal told PTI.

The agreement, once implemented, will provide duty-free access to the Australian market for over 6,000 broad sectors of India, including textiles, leather, furniture, jewellery and machinery.

Goyal had earlier said that the agreement would help in taking bilateral trade from USD 27.5 billion at present to USD 45-50 billion in the next five years.

Under the pact, Australia is offering zero-duty access to India for about 96.4 per cent of exports (by value) from day one. This covers many products that currently attract 4-5 per cent customs duty in Australia.

Labour-intensive sectors, which would gain immensely include textiles and apparel, few agricultural and fish products, leather, footwear, furniture, sports goods, jewellery, machinery, electrical goods and railway wagons.

Australia is the 17th largest trading partner of India, while New Delhi is Canberra’s 9th largest partner. India’s goods exports were worth USD 6.9 billion and imports aggregated to USD 15.1 billion in 2021.

India, EU FTA: Round 1 talks conclude, next round in September

Source: Economic Times, 02 July 2022

New Delhi: India and the European Union concluded the first round of talks for the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) on Friday and the next round of talks is scheduled at Brussels in September, the commerce and industry ministry said on Saturday.

The first round of talks began on June 27 and concluded on July 1.

The two sides resumed negotiations on June 17 after a gap of over eight years on the proposed agreements on trade, investments and Geographical Indications (GI).

uring the first round, 52 technical sessions covering 18 policy areas of FTA and seven sessions on investment protection and GIs were held, it added.
India’s bilateral trade with the EU amounted to $116.36 billion in 2021-22.

The EU is India’s second largest trading partner after the US and the second largest destination for Indian exports.

“The trade agreement with the EU would help India further expand and diversify its exports of goods and services, including securing the value chains. Both sides are aiming for the trade negotiations to be broad-based, balanced, and comprehensive, based on the principles of fairness and reciprocity,” the ministry added.

The week-long negotiations were held in a hybrid mode – with some of the teams meeting in Delhi and the majority of officials joining virtually.

India’s FTA negotiations were led by Chief Negotiator Nidhi Mani Tripathi, Joint Secretary in the Department of Commerce and the EU was represented by its Chief Negotiator Christophe Kiener.

India-ASEAN: Moving towards comprehensive strategic partnership

Source: Economic Times, 21 June 2022

The year 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of dialogue relations between ASEAN and India. A relationship that started in early 1990s, with the inception of new global realities, now has turned into a robust, strategic partnership. In the sideline of the Special ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers Meeting in Delhi on 15 June, the Minister of External Affairs (MEA) in collaboration with the ASEAN-India Centre (AIC) at Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) organised the 12th Delhi Dialogue (DD XII).

Delhi Dialogue is India’s premier annual track 1.5 international conference bringing together dignitaries, senior officials, business leaders, scholars, academicians and eminent persons of India and ASEAN to discuss ways to further strengthen the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership. Launched in 2009, eleven editions of the Dialogue have been held so far and the 12th one just concluded on 16-17 June 2022. Over 200 participants including 16 leaders and senior officials and 50 senior research scholars and diplomats attended the 12th edition of the DD XII. DD XII’s theme was “Building Bridges in Indo-Pacific”. This is highly appropriate at a time when Indo-Pacific countries are coming together to build a rules-based global order, to bring climate sustainability and to strengthen lives and livelihoods.

Foreign policy dimensions have been changing fast, so also the agenda of Delhi Dialogues. DD XII had seven plenary sessions and one ministerial on contemporary issues of the Indo-Pacific. It was great show as well as a dialogue which had made a collective effort to bring scholars, practitioners, thinkers and diplomats together from India and Southeast Asia.

Indo-Pacific is an interconnected geography where ASEAN is at core. In recognition of the centrality of ASEAN in India’s Vision of the Indo-Pacific and in commemoration of the thirty years of ASEAN-India relations, the objective of the current edition of the Delhi Dialogue was to identify further areas of cooperation leading to further strengthening of the strategic partnership between India and ASEAN.

Both ASEAN and India believe that openness, inclusiveness, rules-based order, freedom of navigation and peaceful settlement of disputes lie at the very core of the Indo-Pacific. There is considerable convergence in both the Indian and the ASEAN conception of the Indo-Pacific. Both India and ASEAN emphasize connectivity in the Indo-Pacific and underline cooperation over rivalry. India is consciously working with ASEAN towards a vision of an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific in tandem with initiatives such as the Act East Policy (AEP), and Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI), to ensure Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR). India and some of the ASEAN countries are also members of the recently launched the IPEF.

What the Indian Foreign Minister said at the special ASEAN-India ministerial: “Under the current global uncertainties, as we review our journey of the last 30 years and chart our path for the coming decades, it is important that we identify a new set of priorities while ensuring the early realization of our ongoing initiatives.” This DD XII has come out with new agenda and a set of recommendations. Today’s DD XII has opened up fresh and contextual perspectives on ASEAN-India relations

The Covid-19 pandemic has seriously impacted the economies of Indo-Pacific. Challenges have multiplied manifold but it has also opened up new opportunities for cooperation. The international community is now more concerned about sustainability, environment, healthcare, digital connectivity, cyber security, resilient global and regional value chains and education. Dr Prabir De, who was coordinating the DDXII, told us “Building Bridges in the Indo-Pacific at such a challenging time is aimed to pave the way for deeper integration by narrowing the differences between the nations. In this Delhi Dialogue, speakers from the ASEAN member states and India shared their perspectives on these crucial issues together and discussed the most pressing challenges of our time.”

In Indo-Pacific region, the value lies in its core underlying idea which is that it is predominantly maritime in nature and is also the centre of geo-politics. Concept of competition, control and conflict is not seen to work here. Land boundaries could be easily demarcated, but such is not the case in case of oceans. Sea is life line of trade and 50 percent of global trade passes through Indo-Pacific. Free, open and inclusive seas are important. Transnational nature of challenges and no nation can tackle them alone given their maritime geography. Cooperation is the only way forward. Problems of land spill over to the seas and inter- and intra- land disputes are major challenges. While attending the DDXII, Admiral R HariKumar, Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) said “Maritime security is becoming a collective responsibility. Terrorism at sea, drugs, smuggling, natural disasters etc. affect all in the region. Maritime security may include coordinated patrols, bilateral and multilateral excises.” ASEAN and India need to inculcate habits of cooperation by forward leaning and strengthen institutional mechanisms.

Prevention of regional hegemony to maintain peace and stability is needed. Ambassador Pou Sothirak said “Dialogue on hard security issues should be initiated by India.” Common interests should be promoted rather than focusing on individual visions. Collective dialogue is required. Synergy is required for expanding cooperation between India and ASEAN.

India does not see Indo-Pacific a club of limited members but sees it as an inclusive region. Extended global supply chains have crumbled due to pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine. The post-pandemic lessons has impacted humanity all across the globe as there was a disruption of all nature (supply side, food, vulnerabilities, health care etc.,) and Ukraine crisis has called for nationalism and protectionism Cooperation in Indo-Pacific can help in this regard.

Makato Kojima suggested that we should ensure the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region, it is vital to maintain or bolster its free and open maritime order. The pandemic necessitates the need to think about alternate supply chains, connectivity and infrastructure development. Therefore, strengthening regional/physical connectivity (India – ASEAN, Indo-Pacific) is a prominent link for development. Enhancing policy prioritization for sustainable finance and growth through five key enablers, namely, resilience building, market solutions and development, infrastructural enablers, capacity building and broad stakeholder collaboration is essential.

Roland Rajah of Lowey Institute said “India – ASEAN partnership has strategic importance in the Indo-Pacific region and the regions also require Regional Trading arrangements.”Building back stronger from the pandemic requires both factor market reforms and banking sector reforms. Both of the reforms are institutionally and politically difficult in certain ways. “However, climate change reforms (green structural reforms) along with digitalization/possibilities that digitalization provides need big push.” said Sabyasachi Kar, Professor at the IEG.

ASEAN and India should continue with facilitation of trade, investment and value chains in the post-pandemic recovery and rebuilding. “China Plus One approach on diversification of trade, resilient supply chain has now become an intrinsic part. Resilience is an important component of international trade” said by Rajeev Kher, Former Commerce Secretary. QUAD started as a security formation is now infused with economic content, and the IPEF launched by the US has gained centre stage. Special remarks was delivered byASEAN Secretary General Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi. There is a need to make the market open and make use of non-tariff options to boost exports, make movement of goods made easyand ultimately promote trade in the region.

Trade hostilities between some countries are likely to increase. Dato Ramesh Kodamal, Co-chair, AIBC said “ASEAN-India FTA has not been reviewed for the last 10 years, and the review is needed for trade to move forward”. “Resilient supply chains are needed for resilient future. Australia imports around 90 per cent of medicines and therefore becomes vulnerable in case of a supply chain disruption.” said by Dipen Rughani, Founder and CEO of Sydney-based Newland Global Group.

Global order is changing very fast. There is a change in the global governance of power, which has disrupted or set a push back against globalization due to some extent. The political will is strong. Asia – Pacific order may slowly but surely be giving way to the Indo – Pacific. Union Minister of State Rajeev Chandrasekhar said “India’s Digital India Programmeacted well as a response to the pandemic. Therefore Digital Economy, Digital Cooperation and Digital Partnership which ensures quality, depth, longevity and sustainability is crucial.”

ASEAN-India digital partnership is important as a link to trade-security partnership. There are tremendous opportunities for Indian and ASEAN countries to capitalize in tech as the future of tech is real. “Indo-Pacific countries require investments in building the digital infrastructure and services to more inclusiveness across counties within country too.” said by Mana Sothichak of the Lao PDR. Telecommunications play a significant role in shaping the digital financial architecture. The TCIL is working on two important digital initiatives like e – vidya bharathi and e – arogya bharathifunded by MEA.

Renewable sources provide the cheapest energy and we need cost effective storage. Indo-Pacific region has the potential for energy growth. Energy is the prime contributor for all activities, speed and scale needs to be present in making a transition to renewable energy. Union Minister of Power, New & Renewable Energy R K Singh said “Energy is essential for growth and development is not possible without energy”.

Development requires carbon space for the developing countries. India is working towards providing energy to all. Energy trade is present with all neighbouring countries including Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and energy trade is expected to happen with Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

India and ASEAN need to collaborate on energy transition,where countries share similarities in both potential and challenges. India has already taken steps towards solar energy with the ISA and initiative of One World One Sun One Grid (OWOSOG). ASEAN power grid NSE -0.48 % has huge potential in line with India’s initiative OWOSOG. At the same time, monetary and capacity building collaboration are required.

Energy insecurity, food insecurity, water insecurity coastal flooding, urban heat stress and wildfires are likely to be major issues. Build bridge between India-ASEAN to adapt to climate change and mitigation. “Indo Pacific is a high-risk region and need to turn to green sources is required.” said by Hezri Adnan, Executive Director of Kuala Lumpur-based think-tank MIER, International cooperation is required in the field of energy such as ASEAN-India Green Fund and ISA initiatives.

India and ASEAN has taken initiative towards achieving Net Zero targets in the last COP26. India’s ranking in climate change performance has improved since 2014 because of greater investment in renewable energy. India and ASEAN must aim to realign their energy, innovation and trade policies. Establishing solar and green hydrogen value chains is another feasible option. Thuta Aung, Executive Chairman of the The Mandalay Forum for East Asian Studies said “Solution for next 10 years should be based around Crafting Climate Cooperatives”.

It is necessary for the public and private sector of ASEAN, India, and East Asia to “Work together” to the improvement of environment for digitalization. The technical issues in materializing the ASEAN – India cooperation fund have to be streamlined.

In his Special Remarks by SA Vigneswaran, Malaysian Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to India and South Asia said “There is a need for India to cooperate with ASEAN. ASEAN-India One Stop Information Gateway may be set up for addressing concerns of the MSMEs. Implementation of activities should be done through ASEAN parliamentarians also to make it more effective”. Malaysia is with India in building deeper partnership with ASEAN as well as Indo-Pacific.

In his Valedictory Address, Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Union Minister of State of External Affairs and Education said “Need to work on ways to develop suggestions into tangible outcomes”. In the middle of global challenges, ASEAN-India partnership is a source of balance and harmony in the system. Nonetheless, India must deliver more through the comprehensive strategic partnership, which has been adopted at the special meeting of ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers.

WTO signs landmark deal after nearly a decade

Source: Livemint, 17 June 2022

GENEVA: The 164 member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) finally sealed a package of deals in the wee hours on Friday in Geneva with India leading the course. The negotiations at the 12th ministerial conference of the WTO were ground out over days of round-the-clock talks.

In a first major agreement in nine years, the series of trade deals include pledges on food security, balanced outcome fisheries subsidies, and response to pandemic – all issues important to developing countries.

A key decision related to patent waiver on Covid-19 vaccines is also expected soon, with the US yet to officially seal it.

The deal survived last minute hiccups on Thursday night that threatened to derail an outcome on fisheries and TRIPS waiver.

The deal that tested commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal’s negotiation skills saw several trade-offs between developed and developing countries during the two nights of marathon talks, spilling past the Thursday afternoon deadline.

“All agreements fully agreed and were unanimously signed. Decision on temporary patent (TRIPS) waiver is expected any time soon. We are just waiting for the US approval on it,” said an official source in Geneva.

According to sources, Prime minister Narendra Modi actively oversaw negotiations through the ministerial in Geneva.

India defended its right to extend subsidies to its fishermen, with contentious clauses removed from the text at the last minute. In turn, India agreed to an 18-month extension of the moratorium on customs duty on electronic imports that, it argues, favours rich nations.

A formal announcement on all these issues is likely anytime.

One of the sources said for the first time, subsides on overfishing, deep sea fishing, and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing have been addressed through the proposed pact.

“On India’s instance sovereign sights on EEZ (exclusive economic zones) have been firmly established. It is a really big achievement,” they said, adding principal stakeholders who have benefited from these “historic decisions” taken by the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO are fishermen, farmers, food security, multilateralism, and trade and business, particularly digital economy and MSMEs.

The patents waiver and fisheries deal nearly fell through with last minute hurdles and objections by a group of countries. While the UK kept the patents waiver deal on hold for five hours, waiting for an approval from its capital, the US and China took a few more hours to resolve the eligibility issue under the pact. The fisheries agreement nearly slipped through after the African, Caribbean, and Pacific states (ACP) demanded a stronger deal, seeking re-inclusion of the removed portions that mandated curbs on subsidies contributing to overfishing and overcapcacity.

India’s key demand for a permanent solution on public stockholding of foodgrains will now be taken up only in the next ministerial meeting.

The deal on patent waiver on covid-19 vaccines will allow India and other eligible developing countries to manufacture and export vaccines without seeking permission from the original maker and also export that to other needy countries for a period of five years. New Delhi believes it will help its companies set up more manufacturing plants in several countries.

While it will save lives in some of the poorest nations, it could also help Indian companies set up more manufacturing plants in several countries.

According to people aware of the developments, as talks broke down on Wednesday, India took up the facilitator’s role and reached out to several countries, including the US and South Africa, to work out deliverables. Goyal held a slew of bilateral and small group meetings to try and get all countries on board just when the talks looked deadlocked.

According to the revised draft fisheries text reviewed by Mint, the two contentious clauses that proposed a ban on overfishing subsidies within seven years have been struck off. India was seeking a transition period of 25 years instead of seven years to withdraw such support. The talks took place against the backdrop of several Indian fishermen travelling to Geneva and holding protests.

The current deal will only cover the elimination of harmful subsidies to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.

In the final leg, India clearly outlined that it would agree to extend the moratorium on customs duty on digital imports if the “ultimate package of MC12″ favoured the interest of India and developing nations.

The agreement says that the current moratorium on customs duty on digital imports will continue till 31 December 2023. So far, the moratorium has been extended every two years since 1998, preventing countries from imposing any tariffs on digital or electronic imports or transmissions.

However, India has limited the extension to only one-and-a-half years this time. “Should the ministerial conference 13 be delayed beyond 31 March 2024, the moratorium will expire on that date unless ministers or the general council take a decision to extend,” read the final text reviewed by Mint.

“It has restored multilateralism. India took a major leadership role and was the voice of the developing world and the LDCs (least developed countries). The developing countries were building consensus and providing solutions to break every deadlock from time to time during the different sessions and meetings,” they added.

Decision on all the issues reflects camaraderie between developed and developing member countries.

“Great team effort was there while agreeing on the issues. Concerns of the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific countries) region were fully addressed on the fisheries decision,” source said.

In agriculture, India has agreed to so away with export restrictions on procurement by the UN World Food Programme on the condition that it will have the flexibility to restrict it if there’s a domestic food security need. India’s other demand for allowing exports from its public stockholdings to countries in need on a government-to-government basis will be discussed along with other agriculture issues in the next ministerial conference.

The last time the WTO took a major trade decision was back in 2013, when it agreed to India’s demand for a ‘peace clause’ on the contentious issue of procurement of public stockholdings.

Bangladesh foreign minister to visit India this week

Source: Economic Times, 13 June 2022

Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen will visit Delhi this week for a bilateral Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) meeting that would help prepare for a trip by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the coming months.

The visit is also significant since Bangladesh is among the Muslim majority countries that neither issued a statement nor summoned the Indian envoy over the remarks by the BJP spokespersons against the Prophet.

The JCC is expected to be held on or around June 18, according to people aware of the matter. The meeting, to be held after two years, will be co-chaired by the foreign ministers and will focus on issues including connectivity, river water sharing, investments and security partnership.

Last month, when Momen met his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar in Guwahati, he sought suggestions to import crude oil from Russia by managing sanctions as Bangladesh is also keen to ensure energy security.

The last JCC meeting was held virtually in September 2020. The two countries have also launched several connectivity initiatives, including the revival of rail links that were halted after the 1965 India-Pakistan war and river routes that provide access to Bangladeshi ports for north-eastern states. Bangladesh is emerging as a connectivity link between Northeast India and Southeast Asia after connectivity through Myanmar came to standstill following the 2021 coup.

Besides trade and connectivity, the other issues that are expected to figure in the JCC meeting are security matters, development cooperation, and consular and cultural issues. The two sides are also expected to discuss ways to increase train services and flights to facilitate the large number of Bangladeshi travellers who come to India for tourism and medical treatment.

Jaishankar was in Dhaka in April and last year both the President and PM visited Dhaka despite the Covid-19 crisis to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations with Bangladesh, while also commemorating the birth centenary of Bangladesh founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

This has been momentous year for India-US trade and economic relations: Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu

Source: Economic Times, 10 June 2022

This has been a “momentous year” for India-US trade and economic relations, New Delhi’s top diplomat said on Thursday, underlining the “enormous” potential of the economic partnership between the two countries.

India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu said, “Last year we did hit a historic high of more than US$160 billion in India-US bilateral trade. Do keep in mind that we were able to achieve this during the pandemic without any formal trade agreement and despite supply chain disruptions.

He was speaking at a reception organised for a business delegation from the Fairfax County of Virginia, which has a strong relationship with India. “This has been a momentous year for India-US trade and economic relations.”

Among those who attended the reception were Secretary of Commerce and Trade of Virginia, Caren Merrick; Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Matthew Lohr; CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA), Victor Hoskins and Vice President of International Trade of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Stephanie Agee.

The two-way investments also remain equally robust, said the Ambassador. “With 200 Indian companies present in the United States and more than 2000 US Companies in India, the potential of the economic partnership between our countries is an enormous one,” he said.

India-Virginia trade stood at USD 1.65 billion in 2019 and is estimated to have grown by over 15 percent since then, he said.

India’s exports to Virginia stood at USD 644.44 million and imports from Virginia stood at USD 1.01 billion. Top items of exports from Virginia to India are — minerals and ores; waste and scrap; chemicals; computer and electronic products; and petroleum & coal products.

Top items of exports from India to Virginia are: Textile mill products; chemicals; apparel manufacturing products; transportation equipment; and electrical equipment, appliances and components.

“I understand Virginia will be sending a trade mission to India early next year. We will be happy to make the visit productive and fruitful,” Sandhu said at the reception which he hosted at the India House.

“While there is much that has been done to capitalize on our economic partnership there is much that can still be done in the days ahead. Governments cannot do it alone. We look forward to our friends from Virginia, the FCEDA and the industry here to be partners in our journey ahead,” he said.

Sandhu said that “tech” is the key to the future of India-US relations, and perhaps even the future of the planet.

“To me, it is the most exciting, the most topical, where most of you here have your expertise. It is also closely related to another important ‘T’, which is Talent. Both India and the US are societies that value innovation and ingenuity. Every sector today is affected by technology. No one is immune. The pandemic has only fast-tracked some of these changes which would have otherwise probably taken decades,” he said.

This is where Virginia becomes important, he said. “Virginia is where many say the internet was invented. You know this craft better than anyone else perhaps! And what a journey it has been for the world since then!” he added.

At the recent bilateral Summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden in Tokyo, India and the US launched the initiative for critical and emerging technologies (iCET) — from AI to quantum, biotech, internet of things and 5G/advanced telecommunications, Sandhu said.

“In each of these areas, there are vulnerabilities as also opportunities. What is interesting about this initiative is two aspects: one, it is led by the respective National Security Council on both sides. Two, it brings together all stakeholders on board beyond the Governments- academia, industry etc,” he said.

The second important development in the tech field is under Quad: There is a huge amount of work going on in ORAN, semiconductors, standards, biotechnology, and quantum technologies etc. under Quad framework, he said.

“At the recent Summit in Tokyo, leaders decided to convene a business and investment forum for networking with industry partners to expand capital for critical and emerging technologies,” Sandhu said.

India-US relations a ‘partnership of trust’: PM Modi in meeting with Joe Biden

Source: Financial Express, 24 May 2022

The strategic relationship between India and the US is truly a “partnership of trust” and the friendship will continue to be a “force for good” for global peace and stability, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden here on Tuesday.
“Our shared values, and our common interests in many areas, including security, have strengthened the bonds of this trust. Our people-to-people relations and close economic relations also make our partnership unique,” Modi said in his remarks during the meeting with Biden on the sidelines of the Quad summit in Tokyo.

The prime minister said the trade and investment ties between the two sides are also expanding continuously, although it is still well below their potential. “I am sure that the India-USA Investment Incentive Agreement between us will see concrete progress in the direction of investment. We are increasing our bilateral cooperation in the field of technology, and also strengthening mutual coordination on global issues,” Modi said.

In his televised remarks, Modi said both the US and India share the same vision about the Indo-Pacific region and are working to safeguard the shared values and common interests not only at the bilateral level but also with other like-minded countries.”Quad and IPEF (Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity) announced yesterday are active examples of this. Today our discussion will give more momentum to this positive momentum,” he said.
“I am confident that the friendship of India and America will continue to be a force for good for global peace and stability, for the sustainability of the planet, and for the well-being of mankind,” Modi said.Both leaders shared their views on a wide range of issues and discussed ways to deepen the India-USA friendship, the prime minister’s office said.
In line with Washington’s long-term vision for the region, Biden on Monday launched the ambitious Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), which is an initiative aimed at deeper cooperation among like-minded countries in areas like clean energy, supply-chain resilience and digital trade.
“Advancing India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership Warm & wide-ranging talks held between PM @narendramodi and @POTUS @JoeBiden on bilateral, regional & global matters. Leaders noted with satisfaction the frequency of bilateral dialogues and engagements across levels,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.
The two leaders discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in trade, investment, technology, defence, people-to-people ties between the two countries. “Concluded with substantive outcomes adding depth and momentum to the bilateral partnership,” he said.

India, Australia should aim for $100-bn annual trade: Tony Abbott

Source: Financial Express, 27 April 2022

India and Australia should aim for sharply raising annual bilateral trade to $100 billion because “sky is the limit”, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has played a crucial role in shaping the recently-concluded interim trade deal, said here on Tuesday.

The India Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), signed on April 2, targets to help increase annual bilateral trade to $50 billion in five years from about $27.5 billion in 2021. Both the sides are planning to use the deal to take bilateral commerce to new heights. This interim deal is supposed to be followed by a full-fledged free trade agreement (FTA).

Abbott, who is now the special trade envoy to the Australian Prime Minister, was speaking at a function where Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Barry O’Farrell AO, released an update to a 2018 report titled, An India Economic Strategy to 2035: Navigating From Potential to Delivery. “This update includes a five-year plan for the Australian government to help achieve its long-term economic ambitions with India,” the High Commissioner said.

“India and Australia have complementary economies. And our partnership is vital as we both strive for stronger, sustainable economic growth, and more secure and diversified trade and supply chains,” he added.

According to this strategy, Australia remains committed to the ambitious goal to lift India into its top three export markets by 2035 and make New Delhi the third-largest destination in Asia for outward Australian investment.

The update responds to evolving challenges and opportunities for both the countries, including lessons learned during the pandemic, efforts to bolster supply chain resilience, India’s economic reform agenda and progress under the Australia-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

The ECTA promises preferential access to all Indian goods in five years (from 96.4% immediately after the pact comes into effect) and 85% of Australian products (from 70% to start with) to each other’s market. Indian yoga instructors, chefs, students and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) graduates will have easier access to Australia while premium wine from that country will make greater inroads into Indian supermarkets once the ECTA comes into force.

Moreover, Australia recently announced an investment of over AUD $280 million (Rs 1,500 crore), including to support new programmes and initiatives across technology, space, critical minerals, strategic research and people-to-people links, to bolster co-operation with India.