Meridian 5: Rethinking the U.S.-India Relationship

On March 19, 2021 the Meridian Corporate Council partnered with Caterpillar to host a virtual conversation with H.E. Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Ambassador of India to the United States and Congressman S. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL, 08), for a discussion on their vision for the future of the U.S.- India relationship.

Below are the top takeaways from the conversation:

FORTIFYING HEALTHCARE DIPOLMACY EFFORTS BEYOND COVID-19

India has supplied almost 60 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to more than 72 countries making the country the largest vaccine supplier and producer in the world. Alongside its robust vaccine rollout, H.E. Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Ambassador of India to the United States, highlighted that as India prepares its economy for the post COVID-19 era, the government believes that the medical devices and diagnostics industry will be a key market for foreign direct investment. Ambassador Sandhu emphasized that leaders throughout the country are eager to share innovations and collaborate with companies committed to assisting in the distribution, manufacturing, and research required to develop this sector.

REIMAGINING PRODUCTION NETWORKS AND MANUFACTURING

The impacts of COVID-19 devastated the capacity and capabilities of the global supply chain; however, India has a strategy that will reconstruct the country’s internal production network and provide expansion opportunities for U.S. businesses. In November 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman extended India’s Production-Linked Incentive Schemes (PLIs) to 10 additional sectors, atop of the three the country previously approved. These PLIs provide an access point for foreign companies to expand manufacturing centers and secure the global supply chain. Ambassador Sandhu encouraged companies across the private sector to utilize the PLIs as a tool to enhance India’s local economy and increase business returns.

REFORMING INDIA’S ARGICULTURE SECTOR

Formulating a revised U.S.- India agricultural trade policy is one of India’s top priorities upon the confirmation of Katherine Tai as the United States Trade Representative, according to Ambassador Sandhu. Recently, the Indian government released a series of controversial laws to reimagine the buying and regulation of the agriculture sector. Farmers would be allowed to sell crops directly to buyers with less interference from the national government, allowing for increasingly deregulated trade between growers and private sector companies. Ambassador Sandhu concluded his comment by imploring corporate leaders to approve these measures and engage with Indian farmers.

INCREASING COLLABORATION ACROSS NATIONAL BORDERS

Members of the Quadrilateral Initiative (QUAD) revealed at their Quad Summit earlier this month a COVID-19 vaccine partnership that will supply 1 billion doses around the world by 2022. This unprecedented agreement could potentially revitalize the global economy and place the United States as a leader of the Indo-Pacific relationship. Representative S. Raja Krishnamoorthi noted that many countries around the world are unable to produce the resources to sustain an independent vaccine rollout; therefore, the efforts to mix diplomacy and healthcare through the QUAD exemplifies the beginning of a strengthened, refocused multilateral relationship.

BLOSTERING INDIA’S TECH INDUSTRY

As the second largest internet subscriber and fastest-growing smartphone market in the world, India’s technology industry is expected to undergo a major shift in the post COVID-19 era. Ambassador Sandhu explained that, as a sector eligible for PLI approval, the ability for prospective tech companies to influence the Indian economy is immense. In 2021, Indian enterprises will be spending $91 billion on information and communication technologies, marking a 10% rise from 2020. As the country’s need for connectivity infrastructure and artificial intelligence continues to escalate, Ambassador Sandhu described this change as another economic benefit for U.S. businesses.

Project summary

Meridian 5: Rethinking the U.S.-India Relationship | March 2021
Regions: South and Central Asia
Countries: India
Impact Areas: Business and Trade
Program Areas: Diplomacy
Partners: Private Sector