Policy Experts Note Opportunities for Improved Relations with India under New Government

At a breakfast policy discussion hosted by the National Association of Manufacturers and The Weekly Standardthis morning, experts on India and manufacturing gathered to discuss the recent election of Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi and the unprecedented opportunity to reinvigorate India’s economy and its trade relations with the United States.

The event was held in Washington D.C. and featured a keynote address by co-chair of the Senate India Caucus Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), who recently proposed a 100 day action plan for India to modify existing policies and make progress towards a more mutually beneficial relationship.

In his remarks, Sen. Warner noted the opportunity India’s mandate election presents and outlined several steps both India and the U.S. can take to reset and restart the relationship.  He emphasized his own commitment to improving this important partnership, stating, “The U.S.-India Senate Caucus and House Caucus stand ready to assist American business and India to make this happen. Let’s work together to celebrate the actual business opportunities and other ties we’ve made between our two great nations.”

President and CEO of the NAM Jay Timmons, opened the event by recognizing that Indian voters signaled readiness for change by not only electing Modi, whose campaign platform focused on economic growth and pro-investment reforms, but also voting for an outright majority in parliament for his party. Timmons emphasized that “Manufacturers throughout the United States want to see a stronger and more robust Indian economy and to work with businesses in India on a range of issues, from growing innovation and skills to improving participation in global supply chains. By working together on trade, investment and other issues, we can grow both our economies in a fast-paced and globally connected world economy.” His full remarks can be viewed here.

Trade and India experts also participated in a panel discussion on the opportunities and challenges faced by the new government in implementing positive trade reforms moderated by Editor of The Weekly Standard Bill Kristol.

Panelists included Linda Dempsey, Vice President of International Economic Affairs, NAM; Richard M. Rossow, Sr. Fellow & Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies, CSIS; Sadanand Dhume, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute and South Asia columnist for the Wall Street Journal. The discussion focused on India’s domestic reform agenda and many of the upcoming opportunities to increase U.S. engagement with India and improve relations, but also on the obstacles that require reform in order for trade to truly flourish.

Dempsey of the NAM emphasized the need for concrete steps to take place early, including scheduling the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum and robust dialogues to not only have early wins but to resolve existing issues that have undermined India’s ability to attract investment and grow its economy, including India’s industrial policy and anti-innovation actions over the past several years, She emphasized that as the Modi government adopts reforms and moves forward the Indian economy, there are likely to be other areas where India and the United States can work more productively together, including a range of issues from skills development and infrastructure,

Rossow noted the importance of agricultural development as an opportunity to spur engagement and a recognition of the importance of the global economy to India and its farmers, explaining how domestic reforms in processing of food would allow India to be more competitive globally and actually export products to the United States

Panelists also identified steps that could be taken by both countries to strengthen the relationship and exhibit commitment to building a bilateral relationship, suggesting the U.S. should name a strong, respected ambassador and that India should embrace trade policies that allow for economic growth and job development.

The full video of the event is available here.