Economic and people-to-people ties form a key pillar for the growing U.S.-India Strategic Partnership. Two-way trade and investment between our nations continue to reach new heights. The two governments continue to expand existing cooperation and efforts as well as launch new initiatives to bring about mutual economic prosperity as well as to collaborate to address global challenges.
Below are the key highlights since President Obama’s visit to New Delhi in January 2015:
Commercial, Trade, and Investment Partnerships
Economic and Financial Partnership (EFP): The 6th annual EFP between the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Indian Ministry of Finance met in April 2016 and worked toward deeper cooperation on policies to promote strong, sustainable growth; greater investment, capital market development in India, including municipal bond market development; continued resolution of outstanding tax disputes, and increased collaboration on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.
Cooperation on Financial Inclusion: The United States and India recognize the importance of efforts to expand financial inclusion as a means to fostering inclusive economic growth. Recently, building on a U.S. commitment of $10 million made in November 2014, the two sides formalized a bilateral partnership with the Indian Ministry of Finance to establish a shared vision for India’s inclusive digital economy. This new partnership will work with over 35 U.S., Indian, and international companies and organizations to expand acceptance by merchants of digital payments to advance our shared financial inclusion goals.
Financing Broadband Expansion: The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) announced in April 2016 that it will provide $171 million in financing to support the expansion of low cost and rapidly scalable wireless broadband networks across India, and further the goals of the Global Connect Initiative. The project is expected to provide fixed wireless Internet access to at least 6.5 million residential subscribers.
Launching the Innovation Forum: The two sides welcomed plans to launch the private sector-led U.S.-India Innovation Forum on the margins of the 2016 U.S.-India Strategic & Commercial Dialogue (S&CD) to be held later this year. The Innovation Forum aims to establish a platform for U.S. and Indian entrepreneurs to discuss best practices in promoting a culture of innovation and highlight the leading role that innovation partnerships can play in the U.S.-India economic relationship.
Public-Private Innovation: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is pleased to partner with the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT), the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), and the Gates Foundation on a number of Grand Challenge Initiatives (GCI) that are focused on supporting Indian innovators, researchers, entrepreneurs and organizations to pilot, test and scale up innovations in India. When applied appropriately, science and technology can have transformational effects that is critical to instigating breakthrough programs. Later this year, USAID and the Gates Foundation look forward to working together on a fourth collaboration – with DBT and Wellcome Trust – to jointly define the next development challenge.
Chief Ministers Conclave: The United States has proposed launching a Chief Ministers Conclave. The Conclave would aim to promote commercial partnerships between the Indian States and the U.S. private sector by offering a platform for leading Indian states to showcase the advantages of doing business in their states and highlight recent business environment reforms.
Investment Promotion: The United States looks forward to welcoming a substantial Indian delegation to the 2016 SelectUSA Investment Summit, June 19-21, where Indian companies will meet with U.S. local representatives from around the country and hear from President Obama and major company executives about the U.S. “Innovation Advantage.” SelectUSA is continuing its valuable work with the Export-Import Bank of India and the Indus Entrepreneurs to provide investment research and connections to support Indian firms of all sizes to locate, expand, and succeed in the United States.
Infrastructure and Smart Cities Collaboration
India Smart City Development: In support of Prime Minister Modi’s Smart Cities initiative, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) is catalyzing U.S. private sector expertise, technology solutions and best practices to mobilize smart city development in Ajmer, Allahabad, and Visakhapatnam. USTDA will host a series of reverse trade missions to connect officials from Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, and the cities of Allahabad and Ajmer, to U.S. best practices and technologies. The visits will complement initiatives that both states and their respective cities are presenting in their Smart City Challenge proposals. These upcoming trade missions follow a similar successful visit by officials from Andhra Pradesh in February 2016. USTDA is also partnering with a consortium of leading U.S. companies and the State Government of Andhra Pradesh to provide a planning framework, development strategy, and a list of high-priority investment projects for smarter urban development in Visakhapatnam. The technical assistance is leveraging innovative U.S. technologies, data analytics, and delivery approaches to enhance citizen services and improve efficiencies throughout city operations.
Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor (IPEC): Recognizing the complementarity of India’s Act East Policy and the United States Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor initiative, the United States is supporting increasing economic linkages among South Asian countries and with Southeast Asia by collaborating on physical infrastructure, trade, and human and digital connectivity. A more integrated South Asia will lead to sustainable and inclusive economic growth where markets, economies, and people are more likely to thrive and prosper. To this end, at the inaugural experts-level U.S.-India-Japan Joint Working Group on Regional Connectivity on April 22 in New Delhi, the three sides pledged to explore areas for potential trilateral cooperation that support broader economic integration and private sector investment.
South Asia Regional Power Market Commercial Law Cooperation: The United States and India welcomed the first regional consultations on private cross-border power markets under the IPEC strategy, May 9-10, 2016 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP). The program focuses on increasing private investor interest in cross-border projects through improving frameworks for corporate insolvency, public procurement, and power project contracts. CLDP looks forward to hosting the next regional consultations in New Delhi later this summer.
Transportation Infrastructure Commercial Deals: U.S. private sector participation in helping to meet India’s infrastructure needs is securing and creating jobs in both countries. For instance, in November, India’s Ministry of Railways awarded General Electric (GE) a commercial contract to provide locomotive engines, valued at $2.6 billion, representing the largest commercial deal in GE’s 100-year history in India and India’s Jet Airways placed an order for 75 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jetliners, valued at $8.25 billion.
U.S.-India Aviation Summit: Following the successful, high-level Summit last November in Bengaluru, co-hosted by USTDA and the Government of India under the U.S.-India Aviation Cooperation Program, USTDA awarded a grant to India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in February 2016 to jointly support provision of U.S. technical expertise to align India’s aviation safety regulatory systems with international standards. Aviation leaders from both nations’ public and private sectors also have committed to strengthen the partnerships to access U.S. solutions for airspace utilization, air-traffic management, airport infrastructure and development financing, aviation safety and security, and general and business aviation development.
U.S.-India Aviation Cooperation Program (ACP): In Spring 2016, government officials from India’s aviation sector participated in a study tour to Washington, D.C. and Atlantic City, N.J. to better understand the U.S. approach to testing and certification of aviation security equipment. Both sides also welcomed the conclusion of a contract for a USTDA-sponsored advanced passenger screening pilot project to demonstrate the implementation of advanced U.S. passenger screening technologies at Delhi International Airport.
Science & Technology and Health Cooperation
Science and Technology (S&T) Agreement Renewal: The United States and India recently extended the bilateral Science and Technology Agreement for an additional three years. Under the auspices of the bilateral agreement, the U.S.-India Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) on S&T Cooperation convened in April 14, in Washington to review progress towards implementing action items identified during the 2014 JCM across five working groups. At the JCM, officials from both sides discussed ways to further improve bilateral cooperation in S&T, including opening up avenues for collaboration between U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) researchers and Indian civilian researchers; improving sharing of real-time, high quality scientific data; and enhancing approval processes for bilateral S&T activities.
S&T Endowment Funds: Both sides lauded progress made during the April 13 and 15 board meetings of the Indo-U.S. Science & Technology Forum and the U.S.-India Science & Technology Endowment Fund respectively. The Forum, which promotes bilateral S&T cooperation through joint workshops and trainings, leveraged the experience of its board members to establish subcommittees that will work to build sustainable programming and effective engagement in the U. S. S&T community. The Endowment Fund, which promotes technology commercialization through funds for joint collaborative R&D projects, approved a grant for a 22nd bilateral innovation project and formed specialized committees focused on strategic planning and fundraising.
High Energy Physics: Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Department of Atomic Energy of India engage in cooperation in high energy physics, specifically in the area of accelerator research and development. In an effort to continue and expand the cooperation, both sides are exploring collaborating on research experiments, potentially in the area of neutrino science, with the use of the developed accelerators.
Civil Space Cooperation: Since the 2015 meeting of the U.S.-India Civil Space Joint Working Group, the two sides established a new Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)-National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Heliophysics Working Group for collaboration on Sun and Sun-Earth system exploration and associated research.
India Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Expansion: The United States and India decided to support expansion of the EIS to involve more National Institutes and other organizations as training centers under the coordination of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Cooperation: Health officials from both sides continued collaboration to combat AMR through the development and implementation of national action plans that detail multi-sectoral steps to prevent the emergence and spread of AMR in healthcare and community settings and the animal sector. They also endorsed an expanded program of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and AMR research led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under the Indo-U.S. Vaccine Action Program. Additionally, both sides decided to focus existing science and technology partnerships on countering AMR bacteria by promoting rational use of antimicrobials, enhancing hospital infection prevention and control, and ensuring the availability and quality of therapeutics. Finally, both sides committed to continue to prioritize and address multiple drug resistant and extremely drug resistant tuberculosis.
President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR): The United States and India reaffirmed their collaboration to address HIV and AIDS, confirmed their approval of the PEPFAR Strategy, and welcomed renewal of the bilateral arrangement between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and India’s National AIDS Control Organization.
Cooperation in Cancer Research: The United States and India collaborate across a range of activities to advance cancer control. In June 2015, the Indian Council of Medical Research, Department of Biotechnology, and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences signed a MoU with the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI). In March 2016, the first Joint Steering Committee met in New Delhi, and cooperation is ongoing through scientific exchange in cancer research and training that addresses various topics, including cancer screening implementation, research methods, and cancer education and prevention. India continues to send delegations to the U.S. NCI and NCI-Designated Cancer Centers as it establishes an Indian National Cancer Institute. There are also discussions to collaborate on cancer control planning programs. Bilateral discussions on evaluating Indian traditional medicine systems for cancer treatment and palliation are also underway.
Growing Academic and Tourism Links: The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India issued more than 76,000 student visas in Fiscal Year 2015. Indian students accounted for the second-largest group of foreign students in the United States in the 2014-2015 school year, with the number of students from India in the United States increasing by over 29 percent to a record high of nearly 133,000. Through the Passport to India program, the U.S. government encourages American students to study abroad in India. At the same time, more than a million Americans traveled to India in 2015. The leaders’ announcement that the United States and India will be Travel and Tourism Partners in 2017 aims to develop joint efforts and programs to grow these people-to-people and economic linkages. Similarly, the implementation of the Global Entry Program will facilitate travel between the two countries.
U.S.-India State and Urban Initiative: In recognition of the vital role states and cities play in overcoming challenges to sustainable development, the United States and India are working to develop greater cooperation between U.S. and Indian states and cities, in particular on the clean energy front. To that end, both sides intend to develop a new U.S.-India State and Urban Initiative to forge connections between U.S. and Indian subnational leaders, local governments, practitioners, scholars, universities, and investors to share policy and programmatic innovation that will propel both countries towards a sustainable energy future.
Cultural and Academic Exchange Programs: In 2015, 161 American and 122 Indian students and scholars participated in the flagship, binational Fulbright-Nehru Program. In addition, hundreds of American and Indian students and experts ranging from high school students to established professionals traveled on State Department exchange programs. There are more than 19,700 alumni of such exchange programs in India, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and such programs continue to bind our interests together.
University Linkages: The United States and India announced eight educational partnership projects for the fifth and final round of the Indo-U.S. 21st Century Knowledge Initiative. Since 2012, this binational program, formerly known as the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative, has created 32 education partnerships focused on the fields of energy, climate change and environmental studies; education and educational reform; public health; sustainable development and community development; and international relations and strategic studies.
Women’s Empowerment: The United States and India expanded efforts to advance the economic and social empowerment of women and prevent gender-based violence, supporting India’s “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” initiative. Their Partnership on Women’s Entrepreneurship in Clean Energy (wPOWER) helps female entrepreneurs sell renewable energy, such as solar lanterns in India, and has now expanded to East Africa and Nigeria. USAID is facilitating an Indian Women’s Impact Business Alliance whereby over 30 members have convened to come up with solutions for building capacity of women impact business and investors, unlocking capital. USAID also worked with private foundations and Indian businesses to invest $14 million on improving the health of adolescent girls in India through the maternal and child health alliance and supports the deployment of a mobile application that helps victims of gender-based violence to access support services.
Diaspora: Both sides recognized the important role of Indian Americans in fostering stronger connections between the United States and India, and have been actively engaging with the Indian diaspora. The diaspora has made significant contributions to the fields of science and technology, with nearly 15 percent of Silicon Valley start-ups and 8 percent of all technology and engineering start-ups nationwide being founded by members of the community. Additionally, nearly 71 percent of the Indian diaspora, age 25 or older, have earned a Bachelor’s degree, and more than half have earned a graduate or professional degree. The Indian American community has also recently become increasingly involved in U.S. politics as well as more active in philanthropic activities.
Trilateral Development Cooperation: In April 2016, the United States and India held trainings for Afghan female business leaders who can return to their country and teach other women skills in embroidery, garment stitching, food processing, and marketing. This program is part of a partnership based on common foreign policy goals including women’s economic empowerment, in this case through a USAID grant to the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), one of India’s leading grassroots women’s organizations. The program is expected to provide vocational training to 3,200 Afghan women, including 200 who will travel to India to receive training in computer literacy, food processing, embroidery and garment making as well as in decision-making, leadership and marketing, in turn becoming “Master Trainers” in Afghanistan. Other examples involving the promotion of people-to-people ties within the region include a study tour organized in February 2016 for members of parliament from Nepal to visit Bhutan and share best practices in hydropower development. Similarly, the two sides also recently launched a $4 million trilateral development program to train agricultural professionals from 17 African and Asian countries.