CUTS International Washington DC Center
Monthly Brief #57, December 2022
Sound Strategy: On Japan and the Indo-Pacific Region
The ink has not yet dried on Japan’s new National Security Strategy (NSS), but it is already being considered one of the most significant strategic developments in the Indo-Pacific region this year. The NSS puts on record what has been the predominant geopolitical narrative this year - “Today, we are in an era where confrontation and cooperation are intricately intertwined in international relations”. This single sentence encapsulates geopolitics and geoeconomics in 2022 and sets the tone for an even more complex global strategic environment in the coming years.
The NSS recognises the blurring lines between conflict and peacetime, and between military and non-military fields. The “securitisation of everything” is a reality today and the NSS presciently provides coherent strategic guidance on diverse aspects including Japan’s diplomacy, defence, economic security, technology, cyber, maritime, space, energy and intelligence.
Japan’s geographical location and associated vulnerabilities, its historical tussle between militarism and pacifism, and a hard-nosed assessment of Indo-Pacific geopolitics have all been reflected in its new NSS. The multiple mentions of “some nations, not sharing universal values” who are “making attempts to revise the existing international order” and corresponding implications for the Indo-Pacific are clear pointers to Japan’s growing unease with Chinese belligerence.
Yet, mindful of the international attention any perceived shift will attract, Japan has reiterated its policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on international cooperation, and that it will adhere to maintaining an exclusively national defence-oriented policy. The Japan-US alliance and the principle of extended deterrence will also remain foundational to Japan’s security policy.
The NSS gives a place of prominence to the Quad partnership, committing Japan to deepen cooperation and use it as vehicle to make the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific universal. It also notes the need to enhance security partnerships with countries like India to build a “multi-layered network”.
It is heartening to note that the governments of India and Japan have already been making concerted efforts in this direction. The past few years have seen signing of the Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services Agreement between the two sides, and Japan’s participation in the MILAN navy exercise. Early next year, the Indian Air Force and their Japanese counterparts will gather at a Japanese airbase for their maiden bilateral air exercise, Veer Guardian 23. Overall, a robust India-Japan security partnership augurs well for a secure and stable Indo-Pacific region.
Pradeep S. Mehta

P.S. The ongoing surge of coronavirus infections in China is a sobering reminder that the pandemic is still not history. Will 2023, already poised to plunge the world into economic recession, also mark another turning point for the pandemic?
Wishing an exciting and productive new year to all our readers!

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Indo-US Trade Policy Forum meet likely to be held in early 2023
The India-US Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meet is expected to be held in the US early 2023 and both the countries are working on achieving a substantial agenda for the same. The TPF is a premier forum to resolve trade and investment issues between India and the US. It has five focus groups - Agriculture, Investment, Innovation and Creativity (intellectual property rights), Services, and Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers.

Trade can benefit climate action, says this major report
The 2022 edition of the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) World Trade Report explores the complex inter linkages between climate change, international trade and climate and trade policies. The World Trade Report argues that, although trade can generate greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, it can also serve as a force multiplier for climate actions. Open trade accelerates investment, scales up technological solutions and incentivises the innovation needed to drive progress towards a just and low-carbon future and green jobs.

The real promise of India-Australia FTA
The Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) between India and Australia (Paywall) will come into force on December 29, 2022. Despite the decade-long negotiations, this is an interim agreement. The agreement is not just about trade, work visas and avoiding double taxation. Australia needs skilled manpower and can draw on Indian youth. And India can leverage technical know-how to spur innovation.

Trade deal between India-USA is off the table
US Envoy to India Ambassador Elizabeth Jones on December 02, 2022 said a trade deal between both nations is off the table, and added that bilateral trade has hit US$175 billion even without one. Remember, towards the end of Donald Trump's regime there was some momentum on a mini-trade deal between the two countries. However, post the Biden administration took over there was no movement on the trade agreement.


UN report seeks doubling of fund flows for climate change mitigation by 2025
UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report says the flow of funds for halting biodiversity loss, limiting climate change to below 1.5°C, and achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030 will need to double by 2025 and triple by 2030 the report prepared by UNEP along with the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative, a programme for promoting sustainable land use. The report is the second in a series that looks to analyse the progress against global climate targets and the funding of nature-based solutions to address biodiversity loss, climate change, and land degradation.

Climate talks should have done more on pollution cuts
US Climate Envoy John Kerry said last month's international global warming talks did not do enough to speed up cuts in emissions of heat-trapping gases. He told the associated press in an interview on December 07, 2022 that there was progress on some aspects of reducing carbon pollution during the UN summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The US supported an unsuccessful push by India to include natural gas and oil in existing international agreements that call for the phase down of unmitigated coal use, meaning emissions that are not captured or cleaned.
How India's G20 presidency can help move the needle on climate action?
Much of the multilateral discussion and collective decision-making on climate change takes place at the annual UN Climate Change Conference (UNCCC), better known by its nomenclature of Conference of Parties (COP). There is a strong case to begin a parallel track, which radically changes the contours of the conversation, under India's presidency of G20 (Paywall). It is a terrific opportunity for India to lead the world into a more realistic pathway to achieve more concrete outcomes in the battle against climate change.

Why natural gas is a strategic fuel in India’s energy transition
India is the world’s third‐largest energy consuming country after China and USA as per India Energy Outlook 2021, published by International Energy Agency (IEA). India also happens to be the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide by volume, although its per capita emissions are lower than the world average, although its per capita emissions are lower than the world average. As per the BP Statistical Review of World Energy published in June 2022, around 82 percent of global energy needs in the year 2021 were met through fossil fuels and 89 percent in the case of India.


Upheavals in China: Implications and What Next
The mass protests erupting all over China have shifted the world’s attention to Xi Jinping’s “Zero-Covid Policy”, making everyone question its effectiveness and economic and social cost. The Chinese president’s pandemic triumphalism has come back to haunt him. The country is plagued with low vaccination rates, rising Covid cases, endless lockdowns and an economic slowdown. For the first time, the Chinese citizens have directly called Xi out, challenging his leadership and position. Additionally, these growing protests in the world’s biggest manufacturing nation add a new element of uncertainty and instability into the global economy. This edition of CUTS ONW collates News and Op-eds from policy experts and senior journalists, analysing different aspects and effects of this clash between Chinese citizens and their government.

Defence Offset Policy could be diversified for India's economic benefits
Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International said “We need to diversify offsets to non-defence sectors for overall economic benefits", to ensure that, our offset credits are used, we need to move the Defence Offset Facilitation Agency (DOFA) which currently functions under the Ministry of Defence (MoD), to be moved out of MoD to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry or Department of Economic Affairs, as practiced in many countries. He was speaking at a webinar organised by CUTS International under the Defense News Conclave Project, which is being implemented with the support of the US Consulate Kolkata.

‘Indo-Pacific is new arena of geo-political, geo-economic, and tech competition and contestation’
Vice Admiral Girish Luthra said China has acquired a new strategic identity. There has been a decisive shift to maritime orientation even as this does not mean it has given up its continental orientation. He was speaking while taking part in a discussion on ‘relevance of aircraft carriers in power projection’ on the first day of the two-day Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh. Vice Admiral Luthra said aircraft carriers are not purely war fighting machines but they have a larger strategic and tactical role. A new order is taking shape and old one is giving way. Global economic activity has shifted to Indo-Pacific region.

India and the US make a strategic case for Health Cooperation
Public health has been an established channel of collaboration between India and the US since the late 1960s, when the two countries worked together on India’s smallpox eradication programme. In the US, the cooperation is spearheaded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). On India’s side, various organisations are involved, with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) as apex body.


NDAA requires expanded cooperation with India on emerging technology readiness
The National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) that funds the annual defence budget of the US requires the Pentagon to expand its cooperation with India on emerging technology, readiness, and logistics. Senator Mark Warner, Chairman, Senate Intelligence Committee and is co-chair, Senate India Caucus, said that the NDAA continues to strengthen US-India relations by directing the Departments of Defence and State to pursue greater engagement and expanded cooperation with India related to emerging technology, joint Research and Development, defence and cyber capabilities, and other opportunities for collaboration - including for reducing India's reliance on Russian-built defence equipment.

India will set new data standards in G20 stint
Data is today the world’s most valuable resource and is essential for nuanced and effective policymaking. In its G20 presidency, India will call for modernisation of data systems and advance principles of transparency to better use data for development. The World Development Report 2021 asserts that there is a need for forging a new social contract for data which accelerates data use and reuse to realise greater value, creates equitable access to benefits, integrates national data systems, and finally fosters trust such that people are protected from the harms of data misuse.

Why and how innovative, sustainable products will drive the future
As the recent Conference of Parties (COP27) Summit outcomes reveal, sustainability is no longer an option for the world - it is imperative. Keeping this concern in mind, brands need to renew the focus on leveraging innovation to provide sustainable products or services that facilitate a reduction in their overall carbon footprint. By maintaining a hawk’s eye on consumption and investment patterns too, brands can enhance their sustainability quotient in sync with long-term green goals.
The innovation triangle for economic growth
As we aim to become the 3rd largest economy in the world during the Amrit kaal, an area that the country cannot afford to overlook is innovation. Traditionally, our focus has been on services and manufacturing of traditional items, and less on creating new products. One of the successful innovators was the founder of Perfect Day, a food technology company, which has created properties of milk using fermentation technology and without any animal inputs. Its product is already commercially launched and is well received in the market.


Indian academic solves grammar’s greatest mystery, cracks Sanskrit scholar Panini’s 2,500-yr-old code
An Indian scholar has created history after achieving something that has not been attained in over 2,500 years. For centuries, numerous Sanskrit scholars have been grappling with a grammatical problem. However, now an Indian PhD student at the University of Cambridge has solved the puzzle that has been confounding scholars since 5th century BC. Rishi Rajpopat, the research scholar, stunned the world after his thesis was published on December 15, 2022. The young scholar has demystified a rule taught by Panini, Sanskrit grammarian from ancient India. His thesis - In Panini, We Trust: Discovering the Algorithm for Rule Conflict Resolution in 'Astadhyayi'.

India should aim to be a ‘super partner’
Some principal characteristics which India follows in its international relationships that make it suitable for being a super partner. First, to belong to no single bloc but build strong relationships across the world. Second, to participate in different groupings of countries, such as BRICS, ASEAN, BIMSTEC, SCO, G-20 (of which India is the President for 2023) and Quad. Third, to participate in the affairs of the UN and its various wings, such as the WTO, WHO, UNIDO, UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF and FAO, with vigour and energy.

India is home to a great diversity of faiths
India, the world’s largest democracy, is home to a great diversity of faiths, the US said noting that it will continue to encourage New Delhi to uphold its commitments to protect religious freedom for all. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said India of course, is the world’s largest democracy. It is home to a great diversity of faiths. Our annual report on international religious freedom outlines some of the concerns we have taken note of when it comes to India. We continue to carefully monitor the religious freedom situation in all countries and that includes in India.
A role for India in a world wide web
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said that India can play (Paywall) a “stabilising” and “bridging” role, at a time when the world no longer offers an “optimistic picture”, is intriguing. He stated that India can contribute towards the “de-risking of the global economy” and in political terms, in some way, help depolarise the world. He said, “I think those are really expectations that a lot of other countries, especially countries of the global south have of us. Obviously, we will try and do what we can, and we remain in touch with all the bottom countries of the world”.