CUTS Washington Monthly Brief
#35, February 2021
Indo-Pacific to emerge as an axis of democracies
In view of its collective effort to the Covid-19 response and recovery, Indo-Pacific security quadrilateral of Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. appears to have begun interpreting other global problems such as climate change as security threats. With the third Quad ministerial on February 18, 2021, their resolve to work together on a range of issues that threaten both people and the planet, including climate change, disinformation, counterterrorism, maritime security and support for freedom of navigation, among others, is indicative of that.

With home to developed, developing and least developed countries, the Indo-Pacific region is important for all, as it comprises around half of the planet’s population with 60 per cent of global GDP and around 60 per cent of the global maritime trade flows. The region is crucial for safeguarding people and the planet, and the logic of one-size-fits-all cannot be applied here.

The Quad ministerial outcome even reverberates with the emerging trans-Atlantic Quad that the United Kingdom is reported to be working alongside France, Germany and the U.S. While the former is said to be in the process of developing individual guidelines for the region, the other three have the clearly stipulated versions. 

Strikingly, from building back better out of the pandemic, the group of seven (G7) countries on February 19 has resolved to put together their global ambitions on climate change and reversal of biodiversity loss. Likewise, sustainable and inclusive economic recovery with preference to people and the planet will dominate the agendas of this year’s G20 Summit and the Climate Change Conference (COP 26).

This conflux of priorities taken at various multilateral formats could steer the Indo-Pacific region to become an axis of democracies. This has begun positively. With signs of consolidating issues within the Indo-Pacific Quad as well as the emerging trans-Atlantic Quad, it could be effective for the two to converge on security matters in the Indo-Pacific region.
Pradeep S. Mehta

P.S. How effective will the United Kingdom’s freedom of navigation exercise be, as it prepares for the deployment of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to sail in the South China Sea?

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Niggling issues in India-US mini trade deal mostly addressed
Commerce secretary Anup Wadhawan said that negotiations over the India-U.S. mini trade deal are ongoing and contentious issues have largely been addressed. "The sticking points have largely been addressed. There are no sticking points as such ... bilateral discussions are always ongoing, they never end... status is very good on that deal," Wadhawan told.

Europe bets big on India after investment pact with China
Europe is betting big on India after an investment pact with China. While the European Union pushed for early harvest trade and investment deal with India at the maiden high-level dialogue (HLD), UK’s secretary of state for international trade Liz Truss’s ongoing visit here is aimed at kick-starting a mega trade deal with India in the post-Brexit period.
Biden’s trade attack on China will reverberate around the world
The US and, indeed, the rest of the world were slow to recognise the significance of China’s dominance and its implications for their economies and existing geopolitical settings and only recently began scrambling to respond. With a major pandemic-inspired push by most of the developed economies to reduce their over-exposure to China by diversifying their supply chains, re-shoring vital activity where practicable, the world is experiencing a significant turning point in what for decades has been the increasingly China-centric globalisation of manufacturing.
Global pharma industry will support India's WTO proposal of IP waiver for COVID-19
Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on February 25 expressed hope that the global pharmaceutical industry will show "big heart" and support India’s proposal in the WTO (World Trade Organisation) for relaxing certain provisions in a multilateral agreement on intellectual property with a view to containing the pandemic. Piyush Goyal said that the developed world is under pressure as a host of WTO members, including least developed countries and African nations, are supporting this proposal.


Reliance gets world's first 'carbon-neutral' oil from US
Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd has sourced the world's first consignment of 'carbon-neutral oil' from the US as it looks to become a net zero-carbon company by 2035. Reliance, which operates the world's largest single location oil refining complex at Jamnagar in Gujarat with capacity of 68.2 million tonnes a year, got 2 million barrels of consignment Permian basin, the US supplier said in a statement.
India energy demand set to grow fastest in the world; to overtake EU
India's energy demand will increase more than that of any other country over the next two decades, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said, forecasting India overtaking the European Union as the world's third-largest energy consumer by 2030. An expanding economy, population, urbanisation and industrialisation will result in India's energy needs growing at three times the global average under today's policies, according to IEA's India Energy Outlook 2021.
The energy landscape in a Biden era and its implications for India
As the world limps out of 2020, a new U.S. presidency is likely to guide the global hydrocarbons and renewables industry in a new direction. The implications for India, the world's second largest oil importer, a signatory to the Paris Accord and the head of the International Solar Alliance, is likely to be profound.
India needs climate bonding with US without burdening itself
By rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement on his first day in office on January 20, U.S. President Joe Biden signalled that climate policy will be a central pillar of his foreign policy over the next four years. A White House February 8 read out of his call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of renewing “their partnership on climate change”. Indian PM, in turn, “highlighted the ambitious targets India has set for itself in the area of renewable energy”.


U.S. pegs India at its most important partner in the Indo-Pacific amid China's 'attempts to intimidate' its neighbours
In the face of China's aggressive actions against India, the U.S. will stand with New Delhi, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price. "We are concerned by Beijing's pattern of ongoing attempts to intimidate its neighbours. As always, we'll stand with friends, we'll stand with partners, we'll stand with allies to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values in, in this case, the Indo-Pacific," Price said  during a press briefing.

Upward trajectory of India-U.S. strategic partnership has bipartisan backing: Aerospace leader
The upward trajectory of India-U.S. strategic partnership has a bipartisan backing, top Indian-American aerospace and defence leader Vivek Lall has said, expecting this trend to continue under the Biden administration. The U.S.-India relations in the present day are the result of decades of dedicated efforts by both the countries to overcome the traditional regional mindsets and economic goals, Lall, the chief executive of General Atomics Global Corporation, told in an interview.
India-U.S. defence and security ties stronger than ever before
The India-U.S. defence trade, which has grown significantly in a short span of time, now stands at $21 billion, India’s envoy in Washington has said, asserting that the bilateral military and security ties are stronger than ever before. India’s ambassador to the U.S. Taranjit Singh Sandhu said that India’s designation as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ and accordance of Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 Status by the U.S. and the signing of the four foundational agreements with Washington will enhance military-to-military cooperation between the two countries.

U.S. welcomes India-Pakistan joint statement on ceasefire
The United States has welcomed India and Pakistan’s announcement that they would observe the 2003 ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) and called on the two countries to reduce tensions and violence along the Line of Control. This is a positive step towards greater peace and stability in South Asia which is in our shared interest and we encourage both countries to keep building upon this progress, says White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.


It is in America's interest to assist the rise of India
Asserting that the U.S. ought to counteract the influence of Chinese authoritarianism early and often, a top American think tank said that one relatively low-cost way is to encourage India to engage more deeply as a competitor with China in the global economy.
Liberal in U.S., conservative in India: Survey finding on Indian Americans
While holding relatively liberal views when it comes to U.S. politics, Indian Americans are conservative when it comes to issues back in India, a survey of the community has found. The online survey, conducted in September 2020 by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Pennsylvania, covered 1,200 Indian American adult residents.

Chinese state capitalism — a threat to U.S. and the world, and how Biden must respond
One of the most pressing challenges the Biden administration will face is how to compete with, and push back against, China’s increasingly powerful and disruptive state capitalist system, which not only threatens U.S. economic and strategic interests, but also undermines the regulatory and legal architecture that underpins the global economy.
India-U.S. Business and the Future of Quad and Maritime Cooperation in the East
CUTS colleagues attended two major webinars on ‘State of U.S.- India Business’ and ‘An Indo-Pacific Axis: Future of QUAD and Maritime Cooperation in the East’, organised by U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Ananta Aspen Centre, respectively. Minister Goyal while inviting the business community in the U.S. to see India as a manufacturing hub, said that the reforms in defence, mining, labour and agriculture sectors will open up new opportunities. In the webinar on future of the Quad, the panelists opined that Quad should be institutionalised in the area of maritime security and opined that establishing a standing naval force can be a priority. More details on can be availed at the hyperlinked reports.