News / Asia

Kerry: US-India Ties at ‘Potentially Transformative Moment’

FILE - The U.S. government sees potential for more partnership with the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, shown in Brasilia, Brazil, July 16, 2014.
FILE - The U.S. government sees potential for more partnership with the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, shown in Brasilia, Brazil, July 16, 2014.
Victor Beattie

Relations between the United States and India are at a “potentially transformative moment,” with a new Indian government that presents new opportunities, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.  

Speaking Monday to the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, Kerry said the overwhelming election victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) presents new possibilities to broaden and improve rocky U.S.-India ties.

"India’s new government has won a historic mandate to deliver change and reform,” Kerry said, “and, together, we have a singular opportunity to help India meet that challenge to boost two-way trade, to drive South Asia’s connectivity, to develop cleaner energy, to deepen our security partnership in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.” 

Kerry, who on Thursday will co-chair the fifth U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, said the two countries “can, and should be, indispensable partners for the 21st century.”

A catalyst for economic growth

The top U.S. diplomat said the United States endorses India’s new plan, "Together with all, development for all." American private sector wants to be a catalyst for India’s economic revitalization, Kerry said.

"American companies lead in exactly in the key sectors where India wants to grow in high-end manufacturing, in infrastructure and health care, information technology – all of them vital to sort of leapfrogging stages of development so you can provide more, faster, to more people."

Kerry said Washington cannot direct U.S. companies to invest in India and urged New Delhi to open its economy even more to foreign investment.

"If India’s government delivers on its plans to support greater space for private initiative, if it creates greater openness for capital flows, if it limits subsidies that stifle competition, if it provides strong intellectual property rights, believe me, even more American companies will come to India,” he said. “They may even race to India."

The two countries should aim to boost bilateral trade from the current $100 billion to $500 billion, Kerry said. He also called for an Indo-Pacific trade corridor to put, in his words, "India at the heart of a more prosperous and connected Asian region."

Urges easing trade restrictions

But, Kerry also indirectly criticized India for opposing an international agreement on easing trade regulations. New Delhi says the effort to promote global trade should be linked to food security. The World Trade Organization’s deadline for reaching agreement on the Bali trade facilitation agreement is Thursday.

Jonah Blank, a RAND Corp. South Asia analyst, said it would take many bilateral meetings to overcome a “legacy of distrust between the U.S. and India that has been in place for a number of years but has gotten a lot worst in the past eight or nine months."

Cultural mistrust goes back to the Cold War and India’s leadership role in the non-aligned movement, Blank said. He noted that relations took a nosedive last December when India’s deputy consul general, Devyani Khobragade, was arrested and strip-searched in New York. She was indicted on charges of lying about a visa application and underpaying a domestic house worker. 

However, Blank said Modi’s parliamentary majority gives him space to strike bold deals with countries such as the United States without having to worry about his coalition partners.  And, he said Kerry’s trip is showing New Delhi the respect it believes it deserves.

New government, new opportunities

Modi’s government is showing its willingness to open its market to outside investors, said Rajiv Biswas, chief economist for IHS Global Insight, an information company based in Colorado. He noted that its first budget lifted “the caps on investment in insurance and in defense up to 49 percent.  It still doesn’t allow majority ownership in those areas, but at least it’s a step in the right direction."

Biswas said he expects India to liberalize the process by which foreign investments are approved. For foreign businesses, he said, India represents an enormous market potential, with current consumer spending of $1 trillion this year exploding to $4 trillion in 20 years.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs