India, the US are looking forward to their engagement under Quad framework, the FS said

India’s vaccine delivery under the Quad framework will commence in early 2022 to countries in the Indo-Pacific region, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said.

In his remarks at the Interaction with US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) on Monday, Foreign Secretary Shringla said India and the US are looking forward to continuing their engagement under the Quad framework.

“With two leader level Summits this year and several working groups set up to address contemporary priorities, we have our task cut out to implement the vision of our leaders for a peaceful, prosperous and stable Indo-Pacific, '' he informed.

Recalling the excellent India-US bilateral relations this year, he said India-US dialogue and engagement across sectors have remained regular, vibrant and productive.

“Prime Minister Modi’s regular dialogue with President Biden, and his visit to the US in September was the highlight of our bilateral agenda this year,” Shringla said.

India and the US are entering a decade of transformation, in which trade, talent, technology and climate actions would play an important role, he noted.

According to the Foreign Secretary, the most remarkable feature of these meetings was the mutual desire for broadening the scope of our bilateral partnership to global issues of mutual interest.

“These meetings had a modern agenda centred around the defining challenges of our time, such as the situation in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific, COVID-19 pandemic, emerging and critical technologies, climate, space, and the healthcare sector,” he argued.

“When they met on the sidelines of the G20 and COP26 Summits, Prime Minister Modi and President Biden discussed global economic recovery, climate actions and sustainable development,” the Foreign Secretary said.

Noting that several important visits have taken place this year – at the Ministerial and official level, he said many of our Joint Working Groups met in spite of the pandemic.

“These meetings were important for sustaining the pace of interaction across domains, and identifying roadmaps and opportunities,” the FS Shringla underscored.

Sharing his thoughts on important aspects of India-US bilateral trade he said, there was a rebound in bilateral merchandise trade this year, with almost 50% growth over the same period last year and the merchandise trade between the two countries in 2021 is set to surpass USD100 billion.

“The Trade Policy Forum met recently resulting in a mutual agreement on market access for some items. Our Commerce and Industry Minister and the US Trade Representative have agreed to work together to resolve outstanding trade issues to reach convergence in the near future,” Shringla informed.

He added that both sides would be in regular contact to identify specific trade outcomes which can be finalized by mid-2022.

“Two-way investments are also growing with the US now placed as the second largest investor in India in 2020-21,” Shringla said.

“India’s economic reform process, such as the liberalisation of FDI in insurance, elimination of retrospective provision in income tax are aimed at creating a conducive environment,” he observed.

Stating that policy measures such as the Production Linked Incentives schemes in different sectors are providing a big push to manufacturing in India, the Foreign Secretary said India welcomes US private sector capital to support India’s infrastructure needs, including through the National Infrastructure and Investment Fund.

“As both India and the US are taking steps to counter the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent geoeconomic changes, there are opportunities for building resilient supply chains in several sectors,” he further said.

“For instance, our strong history of collaboration in the field of public health can be leveraged for a global partnership,” Shringla added.

“Given India’s credentials in the pharmaceutical sector and the presence of India’s pharma companies in the US, our respective industries and governments can join hands, with the objective of delivering affordable healthcare on a global basis,” he stated.

“With new COVID variants we have to be agile and ensure development of cost effective and safe vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. To ramp up production of these healthcare goods we need open and reliable supply chains so that we are well prepared to combat such pandemics in the future,” Shringla said.

“In the defence sector, Secretary Austin’s visit early under the new Administration was very useful. The Defence Policy Group’s several other institutional mechanisms have met,” he said.

“We welcome the announcement about joint development for UAVs under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative,” the Foreign Secretary stated further.

“Given the fact that defence cooperation has consolidated significantly in recent years and India has the status of major defence partner, it is logical that there is further depth and diversity in the defence sector with expansion of interaction between the respective industry sectors,” he argued.

“As there is already extensive collaboration between our respective industries, if Government and private stakeholders build on the existing innovation ecosystem in defence industries for co-development and co-production, it would be of mutual benefit in the long term,” Shringla said.

“At the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue early next year, we hope to discuss some of these themes,” he added further.

“In the run-up to the COP-26 Summit, climate and clean energy was another area where there was considerable engagement. Prime Minister and President Biden launched the Agenda 2030 partnership, which envisages closer collaboration in clean energy and climate actions,” the Foreign Secretary said.

He added, “Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry infused a new momentum in bilateral dialogue on climate issues. We welcome the US joining the International Solar Alliance recently.”

“As India moves forward to fulfilling these goals, several opportunities will arise. B-to-B and G-to-G modes of cooperation can be explored by USISPF members under the bilateral Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP) and other platforms,” Shringla noted.

“Recent developments have shown that critical technologies such as 5G, AI, Cyber security, Blockchain etc. are instrumental both for businesses and national security and efficient governance in our countries,” he argued.

“There are growing concerns about issues of reliability and trust aspects of these technologies that need to be addressed. India and the US are two knowledge economies that are renowned for large IT and tech companies with global footprints,” Shringla said.

“We are therefore natural partners for initiating and consolidating strategic corporate collaborations, which build on these strengths and complementarities. Stronger bilateral linkages in these sectors will support resilient and secure global chains and help both sides become more competitive and regain the technological edge,” the Foreign Secretary said.