Experts Share Insights on U.S.-India Trade


By Kassidy Menk

In the Spring semester, the India Center hosted Atman Trivedi, senior vice president at Albright Stonebridge Group and non-resident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council in a virtual discussion titled “D.C. to Delhi: Charting the Course of U.S.-India Trade Relations.” James Bacchus, distinguished university professor of global affairs and director of the Center for Global Economic and Environmental Opportunity at UCF, moderated the discussion and provided further authority.

Trivedi explained that the history of U.S.–Indian trade relations has been one of exponential growth. For the first 50 years of India’s independence in 1947 until the mid-1990s, India was a closed economy with low growth. At the turn of the century, bilateral trade between India and the U.S. began to strengthen. India began to push for market liberalization and the trade market between the private sectors started to grow, pushing away from a command economy. As of 2019, bilateral trade reached $149 billion and is expected to reach $240 billion by 2045.

A conflict emerges when discussing the differences between the U.S. and Indian trade policy. In the critical digital trade and services area, the U.S. has an open system contrasting that of its counterparts. Trivedi stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India has famously called data the new oil, putting out a Personal Data Protection Bill to protect this “national resource.” Until an agreement can be made between India and the U.S. about digital trade, it hinders the $240 billion goals.

Trivedi also discussed the conflict India has with its dependence on coal while also wanting to contribute to renewable energy technologies. The debate surrounding climate change in India lies in what to do about it and who bears the responsibility. India has not undertaken industrial transformation and may suffer economically because of the effects of industrialized nations. Even by sacrificing economic growth, India will most likely still be the last major economy to reach net-zero carbon emissions.

As for the future, there are still many things that can be done to assist with U.S.-India trade. Some areas of cooperation include the U.S. helping India build and modernize its defense forces. Much of the Indian current military supply is sourced from Russia, but that is steadily declining as the U.S. becomes a more trusted defense supplier. The U.S.-India relationship needs to also be carefully managed in this political climate with India having abstained from condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The built-up trust created between the two countries could be impacted and slow the momentum of bilateral trade. India also has priorities.

For this partnership to work, Trivedi believes there needs to be greater market access and a more accessible visa process for skilled workers who wish to come to the U.S. Workers who do come would also like to benefit from the social security they pay taxes into. There must be compromises when developing the U.S.-India partnership and if achieved both countries could become stronger allies. Following the initial conversation with Bacchus and Trivedi, the audience asked questions and engaged in discussion.

Watch the full discussion here.

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