CUTS Washington Monthly Brief
#31, October 2020
Centrality of India-U.S. Comprehensive Partnerships for Peace and
Prosperity in the Indo-Pacific Region
A greater defence and security cooperation between India and the U.S., and like-minded countries, is needed to foster peace, prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.  India and the U.S. have a tremendous catalytic role to play in that direction. This doesn’t mean that India will be entering into any type of military alliance with the U.S. but to be close friends and to deal with threats to peace and prosperity in the region.

By signing of a bunch of defence  and security pacts including Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) and Maritime Information Sharing Technical Arrangement (MISTA) in the recently held third India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, the two countries are expanding their defence cooperation into newer areas of geo-spatial intelligence and maritime information sharing. 

This step has caused discomfort to China, the 1000lb gorilla in the room, because the main purpose of these steps is to counter China’s aggression and expansionist agenda in the region. 

BECA is the last of four foundational agreements on military cooperation between the two countries. The previous three were signed in 2002, 2016 and 2018 on areas, which included security and military information, logistics exchange and communications, compatibility and security, respectively. Furthermore, their plans to expand capacity-building efforts and joint cooperation activities are critical in putting meat on the bones of these four accords.

The nuances of these emerging ties in the India-U.S. Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership are also well-aligned with the interest of the Quadrilateral among Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. The Quad Ministerial in October this year has been helpful in shaping consensus to implement a flexible non-treaty defence and security cooperation for  peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific Region. 

Moreover, for a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, the economic and development partnership tracks are equally important. With that, India and the U.S. need to steer together the implementation of greater economic, commercial and development linkages with like-minded countries and organisations mainly in South Asia and Southeast Asia. In that context, for example, the U.S. support for the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and the collaboration between USAID and Development Partnership Administration (DPA) of India with a view to undertake joint projects in the region will further promote regional economic development.

The third annual Indo-Pacific Business Forum held on 28-29 October in Hanoi underlined the importance of facilitating private sector participation that is critical for greater prosperity in the region.  Backed with their government efforts, it can foster not only fair market competition and job creation, but also greater economic and commercial linkages among countries in the region.

Put together, the bilateral partnership will not just help to achieve the economic development and security interests of all stakeholders of the region, but also the larger objective of free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

Pradeep S. Mehta

PS: As the Presidential debates in the US are over and election trends set to emerge, is there enough ground to forecast the U.S. election outcomes?

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2020 Indo-Pacific Business Forum Promotes Free and Open Indo-Pacific
The third annual Indo-Pacific Business Forum took place online and in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 28-29, 2020. It showcased high-impact private-sector investment and government efforts to support market competition, job growth, and high-standard economic development for greater prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.
US senators seek removal of high tariff on import of pecans from India
A bipartisan group of five influential senators has urged the Trump administration to seek removal of high tariffs on import of pecans by India, asserting that it is impacting a large number of American farmers.
Goyal calls upon US businesses to look at India as next investment destination
Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has called upon American businesses to look at India as their next investment destination. Addressing the India Chamber of Commerce USA’s Summit on Global Financial and Investment Leadership, he said the bilateral trade target of USD 500 billion in the next five years is ”eminently doable.
Indian nationals formed the biggest chunk of EB-5 applicants in FY19
Indian nationals overtook those from China and Vietnam to file the highest number of EB-5 Immigrant Investor applications in the October-December and April-June quarters of fiscal year 2019, data sourced by non-profit Invest in the USA (IIUSA) showed.


US seeks broader energy ties with India amid signs of demand recovery
The US pitched for deeper energy ties with India and said it wants to reduce trade and investment barriers between the two nations to create business opportunities on both sides. With Indian economy growing at "an enormous pace", the current $10 billion of energy trade between the two nations is just the "start of what will be a very long and prosperous relationship between the two countries.
NITI Aayog Announces Governing Structure of India Energy Modelling Forum
NITI Aayog has announced the governing structure of the India Energy Modelling Forum (IEMF) following its constitution in July. The Forum was jointly launched by NITI Aayog and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the US–India Strategic Energy Partnership.

Legislation introduced to boost India-US clean energy and climate cooperation
A top Democratic senator has introduced legislation in the US Senate to establish a forum for cooperation with India on clean energy technologies and energy transmission. Introduced by Senator Robert Menendez, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Prioritising Clean Energy and Climate Cooperation with India Act seeks to establish the US-India Clean Energy and Power Transmission Partnership (CEPTP) as the main forum for cooperation between the two nations on clean energy technologies.
USAID launches three regional energy programs in South Asia
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced three regional energy programs in South Asia, valued at more than USD28 million through the US Government's Asia Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy (Asia EDGE) initiative that would improve access to affordable, secure, reliable, and sustainable energy through expanded, transparent, and efficient energy markets.


Coverage of the Third India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue
The third India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue conducted in October this year, is playing a catalytic role in steering the bilateral relations. By the signing of a bunch of defense pacts including Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) and Maritime Information Sharing Technical Arrangement (MISTA) in the 2+2 talks, India and the U.S are expanding their defence cooperation into newer areas of geo-spatial intelligence and maritime information sharing.

Quad countries interested in strengthening rules-based order in Indo-Pacific: US official
Quad - comprising Japan, India, Australia and the United States - is not an alliance but a grouping of countries driven by shared interests and values and interested in strengthening a rules-based order in the strategically-important Indo-Pacific region, a senior Trump administration official has said.
Iran curbs won’t hit Chabahar: US signals climbdown for India
Ahead of the Indo-US 2+2 ministerial meeting, the Trump administration has told the Indian government that its development of the Chabahar port in Iran will not be impacted by US sanctions on 18 major Iranian banks.
India keen to ‘leverage’ US focus on its neighbourhood as they stand up against China
In a major foreign policy shift, the Donald Trump administration is now looking at countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives among others, not just for the purpose of business, but as key strategic partners under the Indo-Pacific construct, which is largely aimed at containing China.


India, China, US and Rousseau's game
History moves in perfect circles. So it is not surprising that just under 50 years after cocking a snook at the US by signing a peace treaty with its arch enemy, the USSR, India has signed a similar one with the US yesterday. Neutralising China was India's objective then and it is the objective now also.

America Feels Like It’s Falling Apart. Time for Some Optimism
Octavia Butler’s classic futurist novel “Parable of the Sower” recently made the New York Times bestseller list for the first time. It depicts an America falling apart at the seams due to violence, economic decline, and governmental dysfunction. But despite the chaos, the protagonist, Lauren Olamina, spends much of her time thinking about space exploration. Faced with a dystopian Earth, she motivates herself and her followers to survive by dreaming of the stars.
India donates 1.8 million N95 masks to Philadelphia city in US
India has donated 1.8 million N95 masks to Philadelphia, the largest city in the US state of Pennsylvania, to help in its fight against COVID-19, setting another example of a robust Indo-US partnership in the health sector. The move comes after the Mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, made a request to India for supply of masks to be used by the city's frontline workers.
There’s Chinese interference on both sides of the 2020 election
Chinese interference in the 2020 election is meant to sow discord in the U.S. political system, much like Russia’s disinformation campaign in 2016. But the Chinese efforts are more sophisticated - and more complex. There are multiple Chinese interference campaigns that include actors outside the government, who profess to be fighting against the Chinese Communist Party but may be doing its bidding at the same time.