'India, US pay attention to Indo-Pacific developments'

India, US need to be attentive to developments in Indo-Pacific: Nisha Biswal

Biswal also said India and the US will require to work together closely in the economic sphere to succeed

India and the US will need to be attentive to the "dangerous currents" in the Indo-Pacific to ensure that the region continues to be a zone of peace, prosperity and pluralism, US India Business Council president Nisha Desai Biswal said on Friday.

Delivering the Atal Bihari Vajpayee memorial lecture, Biswal also said India and the US will require to work together closely in the economic sphere to succeed and be competitive with the production capacity of China.

She said the coming days and months will be deeply challenging for both India and the US as they will have to deploy a tremendous amount of attention and resources to stem the spread of Covid-19, while also deploying approved vaccines across broad geographies.

The online lecture was organised by the Ministry of External Affairs to pay glowing tributes to former prime minister Vajpayee on his 96th birth anniversary.

"We (India and the US) will need to take bold steps to rebuild our economies. And we will need to be attentive to the dangerous currents in the Indo-Pacific to ensure that the region continues to be a zone of peace, prosperity and pluralism. None of this will be easy. But working together all of it is possible," the US India Business Council (USIBC) president said.

There have been mounting global concerns over China's military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

Biswal, a former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, said the time has come for the US and India to further bolster their partnership to realise the full potential of the ties, particularly considering the challenging situation thrown up by the coronavirus pandemic.

"In a world ravaged by the pandemic where businesses and communities are struggling to overcome the alienating and isolating impact of this virus, when our global institutions are weakened and our traditional alliances are being tested, the time has come for the United States and India in partnership to rise to their full potential to build the better future we know is waiting for us," she said,

"With the incoming Biden-Harris Administration, there will be a renewed focus on restoring our global alliances and strengthening our global institutions," she said.

Biswal said expansion of the Indo-US ties and the strategic convergence that deepened under the current administration will continue, but observed that they need to be buttressed with a broader focus on shared democratic values.

"And our geopolitical ambitions need to be paired with a firm grasp and strategy for engaging the geo-economic realities of the Indo-Pacific," she said.

On trade relations, Biswal said the promise of a growing economic partnership driving greater trade and investment in both the US and India has been seen.

"Despite the fact that we have not been able to conclude even a small agreement between our two countries, we have seen the promise of a growing economic partnership drive greater trade and investment in both the US and India," she said.

The official further said: "The geoeconomic realities are such that for either the US or India to succeed and be competitive with the production capacity and efficiency of China, it will require us to work together and develop more effective and efficient economies in our respective countries."

Biswal said the economic resilience, which in part reflects India's consumer culture and strong growth fundamentals, is an important facet of its enduring appeal as a destination for foreign investment, particularly from US investors.

"As we look to the future, we must build on these successes and deepen our economic convergence. We must align our trade policies and help rebuild each other's economies," she said.

"Only then can we build the partnership that can, in the words of Prime Minister Modi, aspire to benefit not only the American people and the people of India but truly benefit the global community," Biswal added.

She said the US and India must build digital architecture that will connect communities of both countries while securing their data and usher in a new era of digital commerce without sacrificing either security or sovereignty.

Biswal also paid glowing tribute to Vajpayee, saying he was the first to speak of the US-India partnership as being one between natural allies.

"He spoke of a trade and economic partnership powered by the entrepreneurial talent of our peoples where new technologies and innovations would help overcome global challenges," she said.