CUTS International Washington DC Center
Monthly Brief #50, May 2022
Indo-Pacific Ascendancy: On the Quad Leaders’ Summit and the IPEF
The much-awaited Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) has finally been released parallelly with the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Tokyo on May 23. The next few months will reveal the extent to which this framework agreement, which currently has thirteen members and four broad negotiating pillars, can translate into concrete deliverables, and prosperity.
However, by finally indicating a willingness to get economically involved in the Indo-Pacific region, the US and other joining countries have shown the right intent. This now needs to be accompanied by actions on all its pillars of trade, supply chains, clean energy, decarbonisation, infrastructure, and anti-corruption.
For its part, the second in-person Quad Joint Leaders’ meeting was along expected lines, with the four countries renewing their “steadfast commitment” for a free, open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific. The participation of newly elected Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, barely hours after taking office in Canberra, also indicates the importance these countries attach to this grouping.
Significantly, several new Quad initiatives were announced – an International Standards Cooperation Network (ISCN) for greater cooperation in international standard-setting organisations, and a Quad Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Package (Q-CHAMP) for greater coordination on climate action programmes. All of them reaffirm the Quad’s stated intent of furthering a ‘positive and constructive agenda.’
Another important mechanism of cooperation, which has been initiated, is among the development finance institutions of the Quad countries. This should be institutionalised, while retaining flexibility for bilateral and triangular cooperation, for financing development projects in the Indo-Pacific region.
Also importantly, the new maritime domain awareness initiative called the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA) and a Quad Partnership on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief will lend greater maritime heft to the Quad in the Indo-Pacific region.
Apart from the Quad Summit and the release of the IPEF, the past month also saw an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-US Special Summit in Washington, where the Indo-Pacific was once again a focal point of discussions.
Taken all these together, while it is unrealistic to expect unanimity on all aspects of Indo-Pacific geopolitics and geoeconomics (only seven out of the ten ASEAN Members have currently signed on to the IPEF), there is some degree of coherence as evident in the Indo-Pacific approaches of like-minded countries.
What is amply clear is the ascendancy of the Indo-Pacific in emerging and evolving world affairs.
Pradeep S. Mehta

P.S. With the US overtaking China as India’s biggest trading partner in 2021-2022, is this a right moment for the two sides to redouble their efforts to resolve outstanding trade irritants?

Message for our Readers
This is the fiftieth edition of the Monthly Brief from the Center, which carries select published news or comments on a relevant issue. There are equally important issues which may have been missed out to keep the Monthly Brief short and swiftly readable.

This newsletter contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorised by the copyright owners. Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) is making these articles available in our efforts to advance understanding of bilateral trade and economic issues. We believe that this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of the copyrighted material as provided for in Article 10 of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Paris Text 1971) and in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If anybody wishes to use materials from this publication for purposes that go beyond ‘fair use’, s/he must obtain permission from the copyright owner. CUTS will not draw any profit from this publication, since it is solely for informative and educational purposes.

Readers are encouraged to send their own views and suggestions at: 


US becomes India's biggest trading partner, surpasses China
According to the data of the commerce ministry, in 2021-22, the bilateral trade between the US and India stood at US$119.42 billion as against US$80.51 billion in 2020-21. During 2021-22, India's two-way commerce with China aggregated at US$115.42 billion as compared to US$86.4 billion in 2020-21, the data showed.

IPEF vs RCEP, let the trade games begin
Most of the economies that have signed up for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) are also members of the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), an orchestra of free trade agreements (FTAs) in the Asia-Pacific that has created the world's largest trade bloc. India pulled out of RCEP at the last moment over concerns of Chinese dominance. IPEF offers New Delhi the opportunity to plug into manufacturing value chains beyond the shadow of the country's northern neighbour.
India has a key role to play in global supply chains
India has a huge opportunity to take a leadership role as the emerging geopolitical situation in the post-pandemic world is fundamentally rebalancing the global supply chains said N Chandrasekaran, Chairman, Tata Sons while speaking at the CII Business Summit. He pointed out key megatrends that will shape the future of countries and economies, such as the need for adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data capabilities for all businesses, opportunities due to rebalancing of supply chains besides focus on sustainability and healthcare.
Upcoming trade meeting is a chance for WTO to prove it is still relevant
On June 12, trade ministers will meet in Geneva for a long-anticipated meeting, dubbed the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The point of the meeting, which had been delayed by COVID-19, is to chalk up some wins to show that the institution is still relevant in today’s global trading system. The WTO’s director-general, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, says that what the world needs right now is a responsive WTO, one that helps us meet the many challenges of our time and delivers on the aspirations of the people we serve.


The energy transition in India – onwards and upwards
It seems that the energy transition in India has just turned a corner. After a tough three years filled with policy headwinds, policy obscurity, and the COVID-19 pandemic choking growth in the capacity of renewables, a record high of 15.5GW of renewables capacity was added in fiscal year 2021/22. This includes record solar capacity installations of 13.9GW in a year. India’s total renewable energy capacity now stands at 110GW.

Joe Biden side-lined global energy partners with record emergency oil release
The United States announced a record-sized release of emergency crude oil reserves in March without consulting partners in the International Energy Agency (IEA), leaving them scrambling to match with releases of their own. Unilateral action by Washington to address global supply or price issues risks undermining the US relationship with the IEA, the world's energy watchdog that normally oversees international releases from emergency stockpiles, and could raise questions about the continued relevance of the group.
The myth of US energy independence
The US is at a crossroads regarding its energy independence. On one path, it can maintain the status quo of importing goods and services without regard for the energy required to produce them. On the other path, it can strengthen its energy security by enhancing the domestic capabilities of the supply chains it depends on while supporting energy independence abroad. The latter is much more secure and economically efficient in the long run.

More Russian oil than ever before heads towards India
The sharp jump in Russian oil in transit by sea underscores how the global energy trade has been thrown into turmoil by the invasion, with US, UK and many EU companies turning their backs on its cargoes and forcing Moscow to look for buyers in Asia. China and India have snapped up millions of barrels from the country to take advantage of hefty discounts on the flows.


Defence cooperation hardens the India-Australia relationship
Emerging cooperation between India and Australia is widely understood as a response to the China challenge that is facilitated by multilateral groupings like the Quad. But the recent signing of the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) on April 02 suggests the bilateral relationship is much more substantial.

Japan to allow lethal defence equipment exports to India and 11 countries: Report
Japan plans to allow the exports of lethal military equipment, including missiles and jets, to India and 11 other countries, a move that could bolster efforts by New Delhi and Tokyo to cooperate in defence manufacturing. Regulations will be eased by March next year to allow the exports to India, Australia and some European and Southeast Asian nations, according to a report by Nikkei.

India top priority in Russian foreign policy: Sergei A Karaganov
India figures extremely high on the agenda of the Russian foreign policy and strong India-Russia ties will help stabilise to New Delhi’s ties with Beijing besides bringing a balance in Moscow’s partnership with China, according to Sergei A Karaganov, Member of the Advisory Committee of the Security Council of the Russian Federation and a former Advisor to the Presidential Administration (foreign policy).

The Quad looks West
Until now, some Quad members have not given the Indian Ocean region the strategic importance it deserves. The Quad’s new maritime initiative raises the possibility that two of the group’s fundamental goals - promoting stability and providing public goods - will extend more fully into the Indian Ocean region and the states that straddle it.


PM Modi, President Biden launch technology, development finance initiatives at bilateral in Tokyo
A new India-US initiative on critical and emerging technologies has been launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden with the US development agency as the two sides resolved to expand defence cooperation and welcomed the signing of an investment incentive agreement that will focus on healthcare, renewable energy, infrastructure and other sectors.

India’s EO satellites in the Indo-Pacific
The Quad has agreed to launch a satellite-based maritime security initiative to curb illegal fishing by China. India is a global leader in satellite launches, especially in Earth Observation (EO) satellites. The Indo-Pacific nations are looking at the Indian model because it is applicable, economical, and sustainable. EO satellites take images of the earth in visible, infrared, near-infrared, optical, and ultraviolet ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum, cost-effectively producing rich data on the environment, weather, and economic activities on land and sea.

Indian, Chinese companies take lead in AI use: IBM report
An International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) survey report said Indian and Chinese companies are taking lead in use of artificial intelligence (AI) compared to their peers in major technically advanced countries. 57 percent of IT professionals in India report that their organisations have actively deployed AI in their business, and over a quarter (27 percent) indicates that their organisations are exploring the use of AI.
5G adoption will lead to a radical shift for the Indian digital ecosystem
5G services have the potential to increase innovation for all businesses and assist to usher in Industry 4.0 which is envisioned to supercharge the economy at scale and create a wealth of benefits for India as a whole. While 5G is still emerging in India and there is still quite a lot of work to be done to adapt and reach its full potential, nonetheless, constant moves are being made by the government and industry to invest in this technology and ready themselves for the future.


India, US and stories from the Ledo Road
Defense journalists and media professionals need not become defense experts, but investing in developing expertise on defense-related issues will go a long way in enhancing the quality of their reporting. This pool of journalists can then pursue more lines of inquiry and evaluate the real outcomes of defense-related policies and reforms in their reporting.

Indian PM’s ‘3 Day, 3 Nation’ Europe visit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded his three European Nation visits which strengthen the spirit of cooperation with Germany, Denmark and France. During his visit, he held a series of bilateral meetings to boost ties in a range of areas including green and renewable energy, climate action, cooperation in trade and investments, innovations and skill development. This edition of CUTS Occasional News Wrap reflects on the three European Nation’s visits with compilation of articles which highlights the talks and developments covered in print and electronic media.

From USA to Germany, how Modi's bond with Indian diaspora makes India irresistible to the world
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a lot on his agenda when he travelled to Europe to meet leaders of Germany, France and the Nordic states of Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland. The Indian diaspora’s unwavering solidarity with the Indian Prime Minister as he set foot in Europe comes at a time when India has boldly resisted Western pressure to not buy Russian oil and condemn Russia for the war in Ukraine. The Indian diaspora wants to be part of the Indian growth story, and the Prime Minister knows how to take them along in this journey.
Quad leaders launch STEM fellowship programme
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue fellowship programme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and US President Joe Biden on the margins of the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Tokyo. The Quad Fellowship Programme is a wonderful and unique initiative. This prestigious fellowship will offer our students great opportunities to pursue graduate and doctorate programmes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.