Washington: Leading India-focussed US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) has recommended a strong and durable India-US partnership as the key to address the broad range of challenges impacting the global community.
The recommendations to the new Joe Biden administration focusses on taking the relationship between the two countries to new heights.
The group also urged the US President to recommit to the bilateral dialogues. The India-US 2+2 strategic dialogue is productive and can be expanded to include commercial issues of national security interest, it said.
It suggested restarting of “Pivot to Asia”, and called for leveraging the progress of the “Quad” and similar groupings. Asserting that India represents a commercial and strategic opportunity for the US in the Indo-Pacific region especially as countries look to de-scale their reliance on China, USISPF noted that the bilateral trade between the two countries is significant, but well below its potential.
As such it recommended the Biden administration to hold a Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meeting, conclude a small trade package that would restore India’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSPs) benefits, cooperate on supply chain resilience and efforts to encourage domestic production while coordinating on digital trade issues.
The USISPF requested Biden to further strengthen cooperation on terrorism and maritime security and start to institutionalise military and intelligence cooperation related to China, expand activities of Quad — comprising Japan, India, Australia and the US — to include some work with additional countries, manage sanction risks under the CAATSA, support the US defence industry efforts in India including efforts to win contracts for offensive platforms like fighter jets and explore creative tools to assist India in its continued defence modernisation in the wake of Covid crisis such as additional leasing agreements.
It also sought deepening of energy ties, assisting India in meeting its climate change goals, modernising their power system, and promoting energy trade and investment.
“The appointment of John Kerry to a newly created climate envoy position signals the commitment of the Biden-Harris administration to restoring the US’ global leadership on climate change. It also indicates that the US government will treat climate change not only as an environmental challenge but also as an increasing threat to national security. Joe Biden will also pledge to re-join the Paris climate agreement,” the USISPF said.
According to the USISPF, to make the most of this strategic relationship, the Biden administration will need to focus on three main priorities in the coming year — including restoring regular bilateral engagement, deepening long-term financial ties and strengthening digital finance and commerce.
The US and India need to explore healthcare partnership models for robust disease surveillance and data sharing, focus on investments in healthcare research to prepare and fight against new pathogens, assured supplies at the time of global crisis, and development of new hubs of pharmaceutical manufacturing, it said.
The USISPF said that the industry is encouraged by Biden’s pledge to reverse the Trump administration’s stance on a wide array of immigration policy, including the temporary ban on the entry of green card applicants as well as non-immigrants seeking entry in the H-1B, L-1, J-1, and H-2B visa categories.
The Biden administration should drop any defence of Trump’s restrictions in court and move to review and rescind restrictive policies on high-skill immigration and Permanent Employment Program (PERM) that Trump put in place at US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of State’s Consular Affairs, and Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration through policy memorandums, it said.