In July 2019, the USISPF and the Atlantic Council released “Trade at a Crossroads: A Vision for the US-India Trade Relationship”. This report – principally authored by Mark Linscott, former Assistant United States Trade Representative and Non-resident Senior Fellow, South Asia Center, at the Atlantic Council – analyzes the state of the trade relationship and provides recommendations to both governments on a way forward. At stake is a $238 billion trade opportunity, as USISPF projections predict the current $142 billion bilateral trade can grow by an additional $95 billion over the next five years, provided the two governments can re-start the relationship and India can adopt new policies that enable growth in technology-driven exports and digital-based services.
The report highlights some successes of the U.S.-India trade relationship, including constructive collaboration as India implements the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and long-standing regulatory cooperation between the FCC, the U.S. telecommunications regulator, and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which has resulted in TRAI’s adoption of a predictable public consultation process, among others.
The report also counsels that India and the United States redouble their efforts to go down a path of constructive engagement that can lead, in the short term, to a first-ever bilateral trade agreement. In parallel, the two can explore new areas for bilateral engagement, with the objectives of continually building new confidence, gradually aligning their visions for opportunities to open their markets to each other, and growing trade and investment at an accelerated pace.
The report provides practical recommendations, including for India to explore creating a specific trade cadre of individuals who can provide expertise in developing trade policy and conducting trade negotiations. It also recommends bilateral actions, including that the U.S. and India should recommit to the TPF and pursue institutional reforms, explore opportunities for significant market-opening agreements, and replicate recent cooperative successes in key areas such as regulatory coherence.
The report cautions that [the U.S. and India] are at a critical inflection point in re-setting the relationship, resolving lingering market access issues and working together in the longer-term to address structural problems. We are confident that a strategic partnership between government and industry can develop creative approaches so that all parties can benefit from this tremendous market opportunity.