QUESTION : List the recent developments in India-US relations. What are various issues in India-US relations ?
DRIVE A HARDER BARGAIN AT THE DELHI MEET
India-US 2+2 Ministerial forum meet
WHY IN NEWS ?
At the Delhi meet which is scheduled soon, India must ensure that its gamble with Trump’s regime so close to the U.S. election pays off.
KNOW MORE ABOUT THIS NEWS :
- U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Defence Secretary, are visiting India for the Third India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.
- Considering the upcoming US election uncertainty, India must consider carefully just what it discusses and projects from the meeting.
PROBABLE AGENDA FOR THIS MEETING :
- The US brief is clear, to ensure that India (also Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia), makes a strong, public, strategic commitment to the U.S. on its plans in the Indo-Pacific.
- Other items on the agenda will be the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).
o In the last two meetings, agreements known as LEMOA and COMCASA were signed.
- Analysing the relations with China
o It is critical to study just how India hopes to collaborate with the U.S. on the challenge that China poses on each of India’s three fronts:
At the LAC,
In the maritime sphere, and
In the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region surrounding India.
OTHER ISSUES OF IMPORTANCE :
- Trade issues:
o The US needs to commit to restoring India’s Generalised System of Preferences status for exporters.
- The Indian government could also press for more cooperation on 5G technology sharing.
- India could also focus on getting an assurance that its S-400 missile system purchase from Russia will receive an exemption from the U.S.’s Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) sanctions.
‘2+2’ DIALOGUE :
- It is a format of dialogue where the defence and foreign ministers meet with their counterparts from another country.
- India holds such talks with Japan and the US.
- The US holds such dialogues with Australia and Japan also.
IMPORTANCE OF 2+2 DIALOGUE:
The India-U.S. 2+2 Dialogue is aimed for enhancing strategic coordination between both the countries and maintaining peace and stability in Indo-Pacific region.
Key components covered under the 2+2 Dialogue :
Cooperation on fighting terrorism,
Advancing “a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region” and
Promoting sustainable “debt-financing” in the region
- The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement largely pertains to geospatial intelligence, and sharing information on maps and satellite images for defence.
- Geospatial information: Anyone who sails a ship, flies an aircraft, fights wars, locates targets, responds to natural disasters, or even navigates with a cellphone relies on geospatial intelligence.
- Signing BECA will allow India to use the US’s advanced geospatial intelligence and enhance the accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones.
- This could be key for Air Force-to-Air Force cooperation.
- The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement was signed between India and the US in August 2016.
- It allows the military of each country to replenish from the other’s bases: access supplies and services from the other country’s land facilities, air bases, and ports, which can then be reimbursed.
- This is extremely useful for Navy-to-Navy cooperation, since the US and India are cooperating closely in the Indo-Pacific.
- The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement was signed in September 2018.
- It allows the US to provide India with its encrypted communications equipment and systems so that Indian and US military commanders, aircraft and ships can communicate through secure networks in peace and war
- It is like WhatsApp for the two militaries, which is safe and provides real-time communication.
- COMCASA paved the way for transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India to facilitate “interoperability” between their forces and potentially with other militaries that use US-origin systems for secure data links.
WAY FORWARD :
2+2 summit will help to develop ‘engage relationship’ between India and US which has seen lots of up and down in recent times
but the India-U.S. relationship shouldn’t be allowed to define India’s geopolitical character, strategic future or the limits of its other bilateral relationships.
India must keep its options open and be multi-aligned, even as the U.S. forms a key part in that scheme of things.
Positives of current 2+2 dialogue can be carried forward to other areas such as finance and agriculture.
Although China has reacted on the 2+2 Dialogue as only of a symbolic significance, and unlikely to yield a structural change in regional security layout and strategic balance. India and the U.S. can take a positive leap from the Dialogue and achieve the regional peace and prosperity on a large extent.
The two governments must now strive to complete the unfinished agreements and set the course for their newly designated ‘Comprehensive Strategic Global Partnership’. More immediately, with the political backing of both leaders, negotiators must move towards the much anticipated yet elusive trade deal
QUESTION : WTO has become dysfunctional and irrelevant in recent times. What challenges is it facing? Suggest steps to revive WTO.
World Trade Organisation
WHY IN NEWS ?
The WTO is on the verge of getting fresh top leadership
CHALLENGES BEFORE WTO :
- Backlash Against Globalisation: There is a backlash against globalisation, free trade and by extension, against international organisations such as WTO.
- New Negotiating positions by Nations: People who have lost out from technological disruption, globalisation or free trade have found an important voice and have started asserting themselves through political choices made in national elections (electing conservative parties/people to power). These changes are subsequently reflected in country negotiating positions in the WTO.
- Restoring Faith of common man: WTO has to demonstrate that it is on the side of the underdog i.e. it’s mission is to enhance the conditions of poor people and not further the agenda of corporates
- To build New Agenda: It is common knowledge that the Doha Round of trade negotiations has long been dead. The new task for WTO is to build a consensus around a new common work programme and a negotiating agenda.
WHAT STEPS SHOULD BE TAKEN BY WTO ?
- Recalibrating Special treatments
The WTO must carefully recalibrate the Special and Differential Treatment for countries that deserve it.
- Conclude negotiations on Fisheries Subsidies
The multilateral negotiations on Fisheries Subsidies is proceeding apace and must be concluded by the next Ministerial Conference in June 2021.
- Correct Agriculture Subsidies
Agriculture has always been a contentious subject in past WTO negotiations.
SDG-2 provides sufficient guidance in this critical area: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
- Electronic Commerce
Electronic Commerce poses enormous challenges for developing and least-developed countries. These challenges have to do with digital infrastructure, digital literacy and data sovereignty.
The SDG-9 that talks of building resilient infrastructure, promotes inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation, should guide these negotiations.
STEPS TO REVIVE WTO PROCESS :
- Engaging with USA to bring it back into the WTO fold. Genuine concerns must be addressed which will build confidence in the process
- DSB must be revived. Without the dispute redressal mechanism the whole idea of the WTO will be defeated. Hence this must be a priority. USA must be convinced of the same.
- Limiting the agenda of the next ministerial conference to produce outcomes. This can improve confidence in the body. Only fisheries subsidies can be taken up in June 2021 ministerial.
- China and its trade practices must be addressed. Role of state owned enterprises, forced technology transfer and non market economies must be discussed and clarified.
- Discussions must move ahead on the agenda of WTO negotiations. While developed countries issues may be considered to be included, this must not dilute existing DOHA development agenda. Agriculture issues(Public stock holding procurement, special safeguarding mechanism), Special and differential treatment rules must be finalized.
- WTO must deliberate on whether plurilateral agreements(only some countries negotiate and agree) should be part of WTO. If they are part of WTO, induction of other countries into the agreement at a later date and applicability of agreement on MFN basis to countries which are not part of agreement, must be decided
Global trade is facing uncertain times due to pandemic, protectionism and trade wars. WTO is pivotal in ensuring security and predictability in such uncertain times. Hence it is important to rejuvenate the global body to promote economic growth of the world.