How has Trump’s visit to India improved the strategic ties between the two countries?
Trump’s maiden visit to India on February 26 2020, has boosted an improved strategic relationship between the two countries. The tour was marked by the successful signing of several major deals that looks forward to improving both countries’ cooperation in defence, people-to-people ties, Indo-Pacific coordination, and energy. The US president’s visit is not only viewed as a significant strengthening of the strategic bond between countries but is also an indicator of American leaders’ changing perception of India’s presence in the global arena; thanks to the 2.4 million-strong Indian voter base in the country. Let us run through some of the significant trade conversations held between India and the US, during the US president’s visit.
Major trade deals between India and the US
Trump’s two-day visit to India began with a tour of Delhi and the TajMahal in Agra. Later in Ahmedabad’s Motera stadium received Trump amidst a massive 100,000 spectators as the part of “Namaste Trump” event. The event was a perfect response to the “Howdy, Modi” event held in Houston last year. These public diplomacy stances were further solidified with two major trade deals between both the countries.
With the trade booming to a whopping $142.6bn in 2018 from $66bn in 2008, trade relations between both the countries was flourishing when India’s GDP was growing at 7-8% until last year. But the unexpected drop in the growth figures and the growing interest in the protectionist economic policies had considerably reduced the scope of trade relations between both the nations in 2019. US President Trump’s visit this year had raised the hope for a better trade relation between India and the US.
Significant sharing of goals and cooperation in the critical sectors like defence, energy, people relations and Indo-Pacific coordination were the highlighted aspects of trade deals during President Trump’s visit.
Trade deals in the defence and energy sectors
Alice G Wells, acting secretary of State for South and Central Asia, in a series of tweets mentioned about the significant deals made in the US India partnership during Trump’s visit. She said that a significant advancement in the India-US energy partnership was attained as a part of the trade deal between both the countries. This includes the development of India’s strategic petroleum and an investment of USD 600 million in United States International Development Finance Corporation for the development of solar and wind energy.
Wells also emphasized the role of private sector partnerships to make economies secure, with the continued participation of American suppliers of energy products such as WestingHouse Nuclear and various Indian partners towards the energy sectors.
The defence sector also witnessed a significant advancement with Trump announcing a 3 billion defence sales by providing Indian armed forces, America’s finest military helicopters. A free and open Indo-Pacific region for both the countries was also the part of trade conversations between India and the US. As part of improving people-to-people ties, it was also proposed for an exchange visit of parliamentarians and congressional representatives in the initial weeks of April. Talks were also aimed at welcoming more Indian students for higher education as well as supporting India towards human space flight.