India and the United States will hold their first ever ‘2+2 dialogue’ on Thursday in New Delhi, with trade and defence cooperation on top of the agenda. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will represent India, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis would represent the US.
Ahead of the dialogue, the US Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday said that the India-US ‘2+2 dialogue’ would deepen trade ties and help achieve the USD 500-billion bilateral trade volume target by 2025.
“You can’t do defence without economic strength and the 2+2 will set the groundwork for something that will not only improve our defence ties but will clearly take us towards the USD 500 billion (target),” Thomas J Donohue, president and chief executive officer, US Chamber of Commerce said at a US-India Business Council event
The US Chamber of Commerce chief said that efforts to strengthen security ties would help tighten the economic ties between the two countries as security goes hand in hand with prosperity.
“There is a general agreement in the US government that our relationship is a significant priority... India is at the centre of the administration’s vision for seizing opportunities in Asia and truly worldwide,” Donohue said, adding Thursday’s dialogue in New Delhi would only act as a “further confirmation” of the same.
Donohue stressed that both Washington DC and New Delhi need to work on many facets in order to leverage the trade potential.
The US Chamber of Commerce chief while maintaining that this was the first of its kind engagement for India; inclusion of India in a select list of countries like Japan, South Korea and Australia with whom the US is having such a dialogue, said it was time for establishing a trade agreement between the two countries and pointed out that such a pact would particularly help the startups thrive in the innovation economy of the future.
“The pact can specifically help establish more power for intellectual property rights and also a rules-based system,” Donohue said.
Donohue pointed out that India needed to continue unleashing more free market-oriented reforms, which would make it easier for companies to invest and operate in the country, while the US needed to be more open to immigrants, especially the high-skilled ones.
“US is staring at ‘demographic pain’ in the future and while it will work at re-skilling the domestic workforce, it will have to rethink on its immigration policies for being more open,” the US Chamber of Commerce chief added.
The dialogue was announced in 2017 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House.
(With PTI inputs)