Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna has appealed to the American business community not to look at the bilateral relationship between India and the US from a narrow trade perspective which is a multifaceted one. “When we look at this relationship, I would encourage all of you not to look at it purely in the narrow trade perspective because this (India-US) relationship has the breadth and depth survive ups and downs. It has done so,” Sarna told a gathering of representatives from the American corporate world at an event organised by US India Business Council (USIBC) this week.
“As far as I can remember since I first came here on a posting in 1998 there’s only been an up and an up. We have gone through progressive administrations in both capitals with great confidence because there is an inherent logic to this relationship which goes above partisan politics, which goes above the buffets of what immediate trade figures may look like,” Sarna said. He said this in an apparent reference to the trade imbalance between the two countries which is repeatedly mentioned by senior officials of the Trump Administration.
According to Sarna, the trade figures don’t look too bad at all. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in his address said there were certain imbalances which needed to be corrected. “We are working on that. To put it into perspective, it is perhaps one tenth of the trade imbalance that the US suffers against China. So we are looking at ways and means,” the Indian Ambassador said. Sarna identified defense and energy as among the key areas which can not only increase the trade between the two countries, but also result in a balanced trade.
“The greater reliance on US technology, the greater possibility of defences to India, the greater possibility of co-development and co-production has its own implications for the trade figures and for the trade balance,” he said. In the civil aviation sector 205 planes have been ordered by SpiceJet. “But that’s not all. India would be growing, and the figures keep changing from quarter to quarter even if you take anything between 5 and 7 per cent, but civil aviation market in India is growing at 20 percent. By 202, India’s going to be the third largest commercial aviation market in the world,” he said.
So, the potential for the US to take advantage of this in terms of exports is again huge, the top Indian diplomat said. Sarna said last month he flagged off the first crude oil export ever from the US to India. “This is going to be a monthly buy because the prices are still good enough for India to be able to buy these despite the distance. And I think all the oil majors are not only investing in the US oil and gas sector but are now simply buying oil,” he said.
From January next year India will start buying LNG. “I’ve just visited Alaska and seen the tremendous potential that Alaska has for export of gas and they are very keen to team up with Asian markets,” Sarna said.