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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs