"America First And Make In India Not Incompatible," Says US Ambassador

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'America First And Make In India Not Incompatible,' Says US Ambassador
New Delhi:  Amid the heat and dust over Donald Trump administration's tightening of the visa regime, US ambassador Kenneth Juster today said the US President's America First policy and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Make In India" initiative do not clash. India, Mr Juster said, could even become the hub of US business in Asia Pacific -- which can help it get closer to seizing the pole position in trade from China - and could eventually lead to a US-India Free Trade agreement.

A number of US companies, the ambassador said, have reported "increasing difficulties conducting business in the largest market in the region - China".  This is why some companies are downgrading their operations there, while others are looking with great interest at alternative markets. "India can seize the strategic opportunity - through trade and investment - to become an alternative hub for US business in the Indo-Pacific region," he said.  

In his inaugural speech, the US Ambassador spoke trade being the other of the twin pillars of the strategic partnership between India and the US. In this context, he said President Trump's and PM Modi's policies can be work together.

"America First and Make in India are not incompatible," he said. Investing in each other's markets will be mutually beneficial - increasing trade volumes, collaboration on emerging technologies and job creation in both nations. "A final point with regard to this pillar is that a strategic view of our economic relationship could eventually lead to a roadmap for a US-India Free Trade Agreement," he added.

The Donald Trump administration recently said it was not opposed to a Free-Trade agreement with India, which would help both nations bypass the World Trade Organisation rules.

Bilateral trade between the two nations has gone from approximately $20 billion in 2001 to $115 billion in 2016. "Of course, given the size of our respective markets, there is still plenty of room to expand," Mr Juster said.

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Earlier this week, the US allayed Indian concerns about reports of a further tightening in the H1B visa regime, in line with President Trump's "America First" policy, which could have affected 7,50,000 Indians living in the US. After strong opposition from Indians, advocacy groups and a section of US lawmakers, the US said it was not considering any change in H1B visa rules.

Envoy Juster also reaffirmed 'India as a "leading power in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond''. He also promised that US is working with its partners closely to ensure India joins the elite 48-member group Nuclear Suppliers Group which controls international nuclear trade.

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