India – US future cooperation relations

Context: The future looks bright for U.S.-India trade, but it may not be any easier.

More on news:
  • Constructive stance: There will be a more constructive stance on multilateral issues in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • In bilateral trade policies: The Biden administration is likely to emphasise enforcement, and that will not differ so much. It is less likely to engage in unilateral tariff increases and more likely to pursue remedies in the WTO.
What are the five likely developments to take place under Biden’s rule?
  • Domestic concerns: Biden plans to focus on domestic concerns first, particularly in implementing a coherent COVID-19 policy.
  • Trade aspects may have limited early relevance for a future U.S.-India trade policy.
  • Trade priorities: As it turns to trade policy, the Biden administration is not likely to place India among its top few priorities.
  • Whether it should prioritise concluding Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the U.K. in April before the Trade Promotion Authority expires.
  • Other top priorities:
  • Resolving the Airbus-Boeing dispute with the European Union.
  • Formulating its approach with China, such as finding alternatives to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to set new global standards that address China’s practices.
  • Trade agreement with India: The trade deal still pending with the Trump administration remains compelling. There could be an early opportunity to conclude these negotiations.
  • This trade agreement could pave the way for later additional small agreements.
  • Trade policy forum: The Biden administration will see the TPF’s value as a venue for more regular discussions on a range of trade issues.
  • A refreshed TPF will present new opportunities for the two countries to take up a range of cutting-edge trade issues that will be critical in determining whether the U.S. and India can converge more over time or will drift further apart.
  • These include digital trade issues, intellectual property rights and approaches to nurturing innovation, better health sector alignment, and more regular regulatory work on science-based agricultural policies.
Way forward
  • It will be critical for leadership on both sides to commit to strong efforts to put the trade relationship on a new footing, which will have to involve a ‘can-do’ attitude to solving problems.
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