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EAM's interaction at USIBC India Idea Summit (July 22, 2020)

July 30, 2020

Mr. Stephen Hadley, Moderator: Good Morning and Good Evening!

The IDEA summit is about innovation, creativity and big thinking in the US-China relationships and we have two speakers here, who are here not only visionaries but they also key implementers in developing this critically important relationship. The summit is focused on building a better future, but as almost described the present is really than more challenging. So, Minister Jaishankar, I am start with you, where can the United States and India best cooperate in meeting all the meaningful challenges we have today and what are the principal ways in which India and the United States can work together to build a better future for all of us.

Dr. S. Jaishankar, EAM: Well, thank you and let me begin by greeting everybody at the other end, good morning to all of you. It's wonderful to see so many of you. Steve, I would say, you know, there are two big baskets of issues that we should be looking at. These are the two drivers, in fact, in the last 20 years of a stronger relationship. One is the geopolitical basket, the other is people-to-people side. Each one is a game changer in itself. They reinforce each other, they have in the last 20 years and I think they have the potential to actually create a very durable relationship between India and the United States. Now to do that, let me start with the geopolitical side, I think, the US really has to learn to work in a more multipolar world, with more plurilateral arrangements, go beyond alliances with which really it has grown up over the last two generations. Now, it would be, I'm now specifically referring to India, given our history of independence and the fact that we really are coming from different places, there will be issues on which our convergence would be more, somewhere it would be less, I think the quest in the last 20 years and I see that continuing into the future is really to find more common ground. Now, I think Amos in his initial remarks spoke about working together in changing the world and I think we need, we have the ability today by working together to shape the world. We are working on maritime security, counter terrorism, connectivity, how to respond in the case of corona, to pandemics, even issues like climate change, the knowledge economy, so I think a large part of it is, how do we actually while strengthening our bilateral agenda, shape a larger agenda. And, my own sense look, you know having worked with many previous administrations and the current one, actually intuitively American administrations have been going down that way, looking really how to engage countries like India more effectively. We've seen that results and perhaps they did so less consciously in the past, they now need to do it more purposefully. So, that's the geopolitical side. On the people-to-people side, look, when India became independent, there were 3000 Indian Americans living in the United States. Today, there are more than 4 million, and perhaps a few million more Indian citizens on non-immigrant visas. Now, what that has done is, you know, it has given a new quality to that relationship, it has created the image, the branding of the relationship, completely new network, including, we see that, I'm sure Senator you'd agree with me particularly in respect to the Congress. But, most of all it has created a bonding between the two societies. And, to my mind how to nurture this bonding and it's a bonding which is today very much centered around talent, talent that is so central to our economy, to innovation, to technology, to our relationship in that sense. So, if we are looking at what I would call a globalized knowledge economy world. To my mind, some of the key answers and the principles on which we should be building this relationship, is really to recognize and build on trusted talent and on creating more resilient supply chains on which both of us participate.

Mr. Stephen Hadley, Moderator: Thank you Senator. I do want to come back to that. But for the moment I want to go back to the Minister and pick up the second of three areas you identified for increased cooperation, that of trade. We know that the trade can be contentious and there are issues that need to addressed. On the one hand US-India trade has grown remarkably to now 142 Billion Dollars from about a 100 Billion Dollars in just 2015. On the other hand we see US’s concerns about market access, tariffs, e-commerce policy or data localization requirements and India has concerns about section-232 tariffs, H1B visa policy and other issues. So Mr. Minister, how can we resolve these issues and should we be aiming higher rather than simply working on the existing irritants in the relationship. Is a free trade agreement, for example between the United States and India something that India is interested in and something that the two countries ought to make as a priority going forward.

Dr. S. Jaishankar, EAM: Steve, yesterday I think my colleague, the trade minister, Mr. Piyush Goyal actually addressed some of these issues. He described the discussions which are taking place between him and USTR, so I don't want to qualify or sort of reiterate really what he said, but I understand the importance, not just importance, almost the centrality of economic relations, because at the end of the day, even if I didn't learn it as a diplomat, believe me, I learned it in the Tata’s, these are bread-and-butter issues. These are really what make countries deal with each other. But, I think between India and the United States, while we work through trade issues, we need to think bigger. In terms of trade, I would say the last few years have been dominated by a conversation about your complaints and our complaints, and depending on where you sit, it looks a little bit different. My sense is, it's in our mutual interest and I know Mr. Goyal stated that very clearly that we need to resolve, these pending problems and move on to something bigger. I think there's a lot of interest here in doing that. But beyond trade, there is a much bigger connect between our two countries, which is a sort of a knowledge innovation connect. I think Senator Warner also referred to it. And, if you look at where the world is going, I think beyond an exchange of goods, and creating better investment climates for each other, this ability to work together in the world of innovation and technology, I think is really what will set our relationship apart. There it is vital that, we have a sort of a very strong convergence on the big picture. You know that we see the world, the landscape looks similar to us, aspirations look or are more shared. I think definitely in all of this values do matter because at the end of the day when you work on technology or innovation or knowledge, trust and confidence are very very important factors. So I would give a lot of emphasis to resolving our trade problems, trying to, you know, take the sort of the journey into a higher gear than it has been before. I do believe it's very possible because, I'm very wired into what's going on the trade side. But, I'd make one other point, which is, India has also changed. There are new capabilities which are emerging in India, there are domains where today we have a presence and a mastery which we may not have had some years earlier. So in a sense, you know, a lot of our conversations are a sort of a re-balancing of the world economy conversations, where you know, up-and-coming players have some more different concerns than established players. The established players, obviously, want in many cases the advantages which work for them currently to continue in the long run. I think it will be fair to accommodate those, the legitimate concerns of, emerging economies, emerging companies, emerging technologies, and that harmonization how well we do that, I think that's a very important part of our relationship building and there I believe that organizations like USIBC can play a very critical role.

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