Urging the next US government to give utmost priority to the US-India mini trade deal, the US India Business Council recently said bilateral ties continue to be ‘strong and vibrant’ and 2021 will offer important opportunities to broaden and deepen the partnership. The level of progress on the trade front has not been as was observed in other areas, it said.

Despite the United States and India not being able to see a mini trade deal launched, they did see that the robust strategic partnership was continuing to be advanced throughout the year, a news agency quoted USIBC president Nisha Desai Biswal as saying.

Be it defence ties, regional and global challenges, the third 2+2 ministerial or further strengthening of the QUAD grouping (India, the US, Japan and Australia) in the Indo-Pacific, bilateral ties have continued to strengthen, she noted.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t seen the same level of progress on the trade front. That is something that both countries will need to reflect on…2021 perhaps (would) provide some important opportunities to broaden the US-India partnership, continue the deep strategic convergence and broaden the partnership to reflect on some additional areas of opportunity,” she said.

She observed that the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance that the two nations work together not only for the benefit of their own people but globally as well.

Climate change would be another key area of cooperation under the next US administration, she said. India, Biswal noted, has made tremendous investments in clean energy, in solar and renewable.

Referring to the trade negotiations, Biswal praised the Indian side for coming to the table and looking to resolve some thorny issues like those related to medical devices, or tariffs.

“As time goes on, new issues emerge and then the expectations and the parameters that perhaps would have made the deal doable for one side are no longer the same as what the other side would need or wanted. That’s unfortunate…there is a small basket of issues that could and should get resolved if not by the current administration at this point, then hopefully early into the Biden administration,” she said.

The US remained India’s top trading partner for the second consecutive fiscal in 2019-20. According to the data of the commerce ministry, in 2019-20, the bilateral trade between the US and India stood at $88.75 billion, as against $87.96 billion in 2018-19.

Biswal added that there are a number of areas where the US and India should be focusing like services sector, electronics and technology and pharmaceuticals.