US President Joe Biden believes that the India-US relationship is essential to global peace, stability and economic resilience, his top trade negotiator has said, noting that the two countries are now better placed to work on tough issues.

“President Biden believes that the relationship between our two great democracies is essential to global peace, stability and economic resilience,” US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai said in her address at a reception hosted by India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu at India House on Independence Day on Monday.

Tai, who was in India last year, said she witnessed a real flavour of the country’s vibrant culture during the visit. “While I'm always reluctant to draw comparisons among our very important trading partners around the world, I will acknowledge that Indian hospitality is hard to beat,” she said.

India and the United States despite their differences are confronting very similar challenges as they move further into the 21st century. “Our leaders are clearly more committed than ever to addressing those challenges together, and I am very glad to be a part of that,” Tai said.

‘Feel very, very positive’

“Well, the trade issues that I work on might be in the trickier basket of bilateral issues. I feel very, very positive about the trajectory that we are on. Our bilateral trade in goods and services is growing rapidly reaching $160 billion in 2021. And our ability to work through tough issues is also in a better place than it has been in the past,” she said.

Tai said it was very important to her to join Minister of Commerce Piyush Goyal in re-launching the India-US trade policy forum last year. “I’m looking forward to this year’s meeting of the TPF to keep the momentum going. I’m also glad that India is participating in several elements of the President’s initiative for an Indo Pacific economic framework.”

She was joined by several senior members of the Biden administration including Dr Ashish Jha, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator; Dr Rahul Gupta, Director of National Drug Control Policy; Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKean; Deputy Secretary Treasury Department, Wally Adeyemo; Deputy Secretary US Department of Commerce Don Graves; Secretary US Air Force Frank Kendall, and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Christopher W Grady on the occasion.

Astronaut and Deputy Administrator NASA Administrator Pamela Melroy, who is one of only two women to have ever commanded the space shuttle; Deputy Administrator for Policy and Programming at USAID Isabel Holman were also present at the reception. So were Nobel laureate Dr William D Phillips, known for his seminal work in physics, and several members of the US-India CEOs forum, including Raj Subramanyam and Punit Renjen.

‘An indispensable partnership’

“I just want to say a word about the indispensable partnership that we've built with India and how remarkable it is that in just 75 years, you have become our indispensable partner,” Deputy Secretary Treasury Department Adeyemo said. “The US was a young country struggling to figure out our place in the world, still, before our Civil War, still largely economically ignored,” he said.

“It demonstrates how quickly India has taken the steps to both build a thriving democracy and a thriving economy, one that we seek to partner with in so many ways. And as we think about the next 75 years, the next 75 years here in the United States, the next 75 years in India, the two challenges that we face, as two of the world's most important democracies, is how do we prove the democracy continues to deliver for our people, and I know that America working closely with India will be able to meet that challenge,” he asserted.

Deputy Secretary, US Department of Commerce, Don Graves said the US-India trade relationship remains vital and strong. India is the United States ninth largest trading partner in goods, he said. “India's responsible for nearly USD 13 billion in foreign direct investment in the US creating more than 70,000 jobs, employing thousands and thousands of Americans who then helped to support millions of other Americans.”

‘Looking at new avenues for cooperation‘

“We are excited to be doing our part at the US Department of Commerce to pave the way for increased trade and engagement and investment between our economies. “That's why we're looking at new avenues for cooperation with India, including through the Indo Pacific economic framework to promote not just trade, but our shared values and our principles, including for the respect for the rule of law, shared rules of the road and high standards in priority sectors,” Graves said.

He said the Biden administration is working with New Delhi to take a fresh look at the US-India Commercial Dialogue and how to better align it with current bilateral priorities. “We recently appointed CEOs to the US India CEO Forum, which brings together US and Indian business executives to discuss ways to strengthen US-India commercial ties. The department will soon co-chair meetings of both the commercial dialogue and CEO forum with Minister Goyal,” Graves said.