Over the past few years, India has strengthened its regional leadership role in South Asia. Most notably, India has worked with the Government of Afghanistan to help rebuild that country, and has signed a number of cooperative agreements with Afghanistan. It has worked hard to promote regional economic integration, including normalization of trade relations with Pakistan.
Most recently, after the devastating earthquake in Nepal, India was at the forefront of the relief effort, sending hundreds of search-and-rescue and medical personnel, over 500 tons of supplies, and evacuating thousands of people.
That is one, but not nearly all of the reasons why the United States is expanding its strategic partnership with India, said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Richard Hoagland. It’s not only because “India is the region’s geographic anchor, and not just because it’s the world’s fastest-growing major economy, but because it’s a country with which we share many core values and many common interests.”
And the relationship has blossomed since last year’s election elevated Narendra Modi as prime minister. Over the course of two meetings, one in Washington, DC, last September, and the other in New Delhi in January, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Modi made a decision to create the conditions necessary to increase U.S-India trade five-fold, to 500 billion dollars.
In April, the Modi government announced its intention to double its global exports of goods and services to $900 billion by 2020. At the same time, President Obama announced a number of concrete steps the United States plans to take.
First, as much as $1 billion in U.S. Export-Import Bank financing will support U.S. exports to India. Overseas Private Investment Corporation lending to small- and medium-sized enterprises across India is expected to result in more than $1 billion in loans in underserved rural and urban markets. And finally, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency will aim to leverage nearly $2 billion in investments in India’s renewable energy sector.
“Sharing a vision with India for the region is no small thing,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hoagland. The meetings between the two leaders were historic, and remarkable “for [their] substance, especially for our strategic partnership, our security cooperation, our economic relationship, and our clean-energy and environmental goals.”(VOA)