News / Asia

    India, US Express Optimism After Strategic Dialogue

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with India's Finance Minister Arun Jaitley as U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker (C) watches before the start of their meeting in New Delhi, July 31, 2014.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with India's Finance Minister Arun Jaitley as U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker (C) watches before the start of their meeting in New Delhi, July 31, 2014.
    Anjana Pasricha

    At the conclusion of a strategic dialogue between India and the United States, both countries expressed optimism about improving their ties.
     
    After discussing issues ranging from trade and security to climate change with his Indian counterpart, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that India and the U.S. can become “indispensable partners” in the 21st century.
     
    “The moment has never been more ripe to deliver on the incredible possibilities of the relationship between our nations," said Kerry.
     
    The fifth round of the India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue on Thursday was the first high-level interaction between American officials and India’s new government, installed in May.
     
    The visit is seen as an effort to reverse a downward spiral in bilateral ties.
     
    With a range of differences on issues such as trade, tariffs and price controls, Kerry said that there is work to be done.

     “The words are easy. It is the actions we need to take that will really define the relationship in the days ahead. And I think it is safe to say that I said to the foreign minister, that we all have a lot of homework to do," he said.
     
    Washington’s chief concern remains barriers to trade by India.
     
    These barriers were a focus during Kerry’s visit.  His meetings with Indian officials took place as a deadline loomed over a global trade deal, which India has opposed unless its concerns are met on the right to buy grain from farmers at above-market prices, and stockpile it.
     
    Kerry urged India to join the agreement at the World Trade Organization.  He said he understood India’s concerns about providing food security to large number of poor people, but warned that it could stand to lose if the trade deal was scuttled.

    Meanwhile, India has blocked world trade reforms over demands it be allowed to sell stockpiled food to the poor at subsidized prices.

    Delegates at a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva say they missed a deadline for passage of the reforms, saying consequences could be significant.

    WTO members agreed in principle last year to streamline and standardize global customs rule.

    India, however, said it would not back the trade reforms unless it were allowed to have the right to buy grain from farmers at above-market prices, stockpile it, and sell it to the poor at government-subsidized prices.

    WTO rules say stockpiled food can only be sold at market prices.

    U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the customs reforms would have cut trade costs and generated hundreds of billions of dollars in much needed economic activity.

    Froman said he is disappointed India and its supporters decided not to adhere to their commitments.

    He said the United States will consult with its trading partners on the next step.

    Despite the differences, both sides are keen to collaborate in a range of areas as India focuses on development goals and has indicated that it will undertake more economic reforms.
     
    The U.S. secretary of state said there are “dramatic” opportunities in sectors such as high-end manufacturing, infrastructure, health care, and information technology, where American companies are world leaders and where India is seeking both investment and technology.
     
    Kerry will meet on Friday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is scheduled to visit Washington in September.

     

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Not again from: Canada
    July 31, 2014 10:28 PM
    Basic food grains are strategic assets for a country like India; it has a very unique situation, because of poverty; requiring to feed poor people and requiring to employ vast numbers of rural people which do no have great job prospects. The basic grain programs, that the state is trying to protect, are fundamental to India's internal stability, security, and development. It should not take a genius to understand, that large numbers of rural citizens in India, can't just emigrate to the US silicon valley and get top positions in the industry. Most of the rural population does not have advanced technology degrees coupled with fortunes inherited by spouses; most rural people live on a daily income, that is much less than a cup of trendy Java costs in the US. It is hard to understand as to how come people like the US Secretary has not done a bit of research on the matter before embarking on demands that he should be embarrassed to make. = MUCH, IF NOT MOST OF THE INDIAN RURAL POPULATION IS VERY POOR.
    Failure to provide basic food grains, at affordable prices, to the rural population would cause masive instability in India. Already India is facing a number of internal terrorist insurgencies, including Maoists, that preach a very different approach to India's economy.
    Depriving rural agrarian workers, of a very small basic income, to enable them to purchase the subsidized grains they produce, would be catastrophic for the population's very basic health and well being.
    The secretary, is out to lunch on this issue of basic grain cultivation/subsidized sales; the secretary is amongst the fortunate that at least he can afford a lunch, not so many of the rural people of the far reaches of India, they do not have the same fortune....


    by: slavko
    July 31, 2014 8:42 PM
    With the great amount of poor people in India, India's government is ethically correct and should be supported to stockpile food for her indigent people. It would help strengthen her agricultural sector as well as provide humanitarian aid to her own masses. If the U.S. is indeed India's friend, then US should help support and even muster more support from other WTO members. I am sure that then India would reciprocate in kind.
    In Response

    by: slavko
    August 01, 2014 12:34 AM
    the welfare of people shoud be placed first before that of the welfare of political entities.

    by: CMott from: US
    July 31, 2014 7:45 PM
    This certainly, is an important strategic alliance going forward.

    Wish US can be more sensitive to the needs of this developing nation in service of the poor-at-large in food-security rather pushing the WTO at their somewhat self-serving lobby with disregard for local needs.

    Wonder how this compares with US farm subsidies of over $100B.

    Leaving the food alone, overall, this partnership will prove mutually beneficial for the long term. All the best.

    In Response

    by: slavko
    July 31, 2014 8:44 PM
    well said!

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