International Trade Deal: We take India-US trade relations for granted today but that wasn't the case always, says Jaishankar

DN Bureau

Focusing on the role of business in New Delhi's foreign policy, External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Saturday said that the trade relations between India and the United States are being taken for granted today but the same was not the case earlier.

External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar
External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar

New Delhi: Focusing on the role of business in New Delhi's foreign policy, External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Saturday said that the trade relations between India and the United States are being taken for granted today but the same was not the case earlier.

"Investment, supply chains, and trade make our neighbourhood foreign policy credible today. It creates a larger sense of regionalism and that I believe is a key to our rise and it helps to create connectivity which is central to that endeavour. If there is a sense today of an extended neighbourhood that is because of the economic connect whether it is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) or Gulf it's all about trade investment and services," Jaishankar at Global Business Summit."

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Our major power relationship is business-driven too. We today at this stage take India-US trade relations for granted but that was not always the quality of our relationship. 

Foreign policy is built on economic nuzzle and that is why key challenges related to it whether of connectivity, technology, the global architecture they are best addressed in partnership with business," he added.

On being asked whether India is losing friends (in the world) or is the country just not able to explain to the foreigners what the rationale of certain decisions have been, the External Affairs Minister amused, "Maybe we are getting to know who our friends really are."

"I think there are two different issues here and I think that it is a kind of geopolitical assessment. There was a time when India was very defensive, our capabilities were less, risks were more, threats were higher, so we adopted the strategy of managing world but staying away," Jaishankar addressed."

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Now, the nature of the world has changed. So as we become more capable, our confidence level grows, our interest in the world grows, their (foreigners) interest in us grows, we have to do the management but in a very different way. 

We have to engage everybody," he told the gathering while adding that the second issue is of a changing world and a changing India i.e. "we can't let governance challenges go unaddressed. It is not the mindset of this government."

Last month, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said that India and the US had begun talks to move towards a Free Trade Agreement. Speaking at the conference organised to coincide with US President Donald Trump's visit to India, Goyal said: "I am delighted that both the leaders (Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trump) have decided to formally engage to move towards a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between these two big economies."

"We'll hopefully close the first end of the limited engagement that we have already discussed and nearly finalised, Ambassador Lighthizer and I. 

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We'll get into legal vetting and close that quickly," Goyal said referring to the current United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

He stated that US President Donald Trump's maiden visit to India on February 24-25 has further enabled a productive engagement on the trade front. (ANI)

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