New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday batted for enhancing trade between India and US as he met Joe Biden for their first in-person interaction since he became US President.
“Between India and the United States, trade will continue to assume importance, and we find that the trade between our two countries is actually complementary,” Modi said at a joint press briefing before their meeting began. “There are things that you have and there are things that we have, and then we in fact complement each other. I find that the area of trade during this decade is also going to be tremendously important.”
This is the first time trade took centrestage in India-US talks under the Biden administration. Under the Donald Trump administration, both sides appeared close to signing a small trade deal, which was to be followed by a larger trade pact, but it couldn’t be achieved.
Under the Trump administration, in June 2019, India was also stripped of trade benefits under the US’ Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme. The Biden administration has made no mention of reinstating India’s status in the programme.
India enjoyed trade benefits to the tune of about $6 billion under the GSP, and there are expectations that the Biden administration will restore it.
After his interaction with Biden, Modi tweeted that they had an “outstanding meeting”.
Had an outstanding meeting with @POTUS @JoeBiden. His leadership on critical global issues is commendable. We discussed how India and USA will further scale-up cooperation in different spheres and work together to overcome key challenges like COVID-19 and climate change. pic.twitter.com/nnSVE5OSdL
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 24, 2021
‘Transformative period’ for democracies
Under the new US administration, Modi told Biden, democracies around the world will witness a “transformative period”.
“I find that under your leadership, the seeds have been sown for Indo-US relations to expand, and for all democratic countries in the world, this is going to be a transformative period. I can see that very clearly,” he said.
“When I talk about conditions, talking about democratic predictions, democratic values, traditions to which both our countries are committed, I find that the importance of these traditions will only increase further,” Modi added.
In his remarks to Modi, President Biden said US-India ties can help “solve global challenges”.
“I think that the relationship between India and the United States, the largest democracies in the world, is destined to be stronger, closer and tighter, and I believe it can benefit the whole world,” he said.
India and the US, Biden added, are set to launch a “new chapter” in the history of bilateral ties that will seek to take on “some of the toughest challenges we face together”.
India and the US are part of the Quad, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, along with Australia and Japan — an initiative aimed at restraining China’s expansion in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Of course our partnership is more than just what we do. It’s about who we are… It’s about our shared responsibility to uphold democratic values, our joint commitment to diversity, and it’s about family ties, including four million Indian Americans who make the United States stronger every single day,” he said.
“The world celebrates Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday next week,” Biden added. “We’re all reminded that his message of non-violence, respect, tolerance, matters today maybe more than ever.”
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)