Trade: The final frontier in India-US ties

Akshobh Giridharadas
4 min readNov 22, 2021

Washington and New Delhi’s relations have moved from a period of estrangement in the post-independence and pre-liberalisation era to one of engagement. Today, the strategic partnership rests on three strong pillars, with convergence on defence and security as demonstrated with the inaugural Quad summit in Washington and a new West Asian Quad that has come to fruition. The second pillar touches on shared democratic values as evinced with the words, “We The People”, enshrined in both constitutions and the catchphrase of the world’s oldest and largest democracy, every time a bilateral takes place between the respective leaders. Last, but not least, the strength and ubiquitousness of the diaspora, with the fait accompli of an Indian origin Spelling Bee champion and presence of Indian diaspora at the highest echelons of Silicon Valley.

The relationship fructified as with the reforms of 1991, India opened up, and with that the relations moved from a country dependent on aid, eschewing PL480 subsidies to one that can hold its own on trade, as it could hold its pride with buying submarines and yet its obdurateness by arguing over soybeans.

And trade is the elephant in the reform, as United States Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai touches down in New Delhi for her maiden visit in this position. The agenda is to “restart the Trade Policy Forum (TPF)”, one that has been dormant for four years since 2017, when then Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu met former USTR Robert Flightier.

Tai will meet Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal as they hold discussions for two days and deliberate on mutual cooperation on enhancing trade and economic ties.

Earlier this month, both Tai and Goyal met virtually as they agreed to take a comprehensive look at ways to expand the bilateral trade relationship and ensure the future success of the US-India Trade Policy Forum, which was started back in 2010 with a view to achieve increased opportunities for SMEs in both countries, enhance participation in global supply chains, and increase bilateral trade.

As Mukesh Aghi, USISPF President and CEO said: “We hope for fruitful discussions that could potentially bring about an early harvest deal. A vibrant Indian economy provides tremendous opportunities for US corporate investment, benefitting both economies. Enhanced trade would greatly strengthen the strategic partnership between New Delhi and Washington, taking this already robust…

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Akshobh Giridharadas

A journalist by profession. He writes about business & finance, geopolitics, sports & tech news. He is a TEDx & Toastmasters speaker. Follow him @Akshobh