Tuesday, September 23, 2014

PM Modi's US visit: Defense partnership and economic relations to remain top agenda 
New Delhi, 23 Sep, 2014: Defence and security partnership, energy including renewable energy relations and economic and investment ties and technology transfer will dominate Narendra Modi's maiden visit to the USA as Prime Minister that is widely expected to correct sentiments in the India-US relations that have been soured since 2011. 

On his longest trip abroad since taking over as the PM, Modi leaves for USA on September 25-26 for nearly seven days during which he will give his maiden speech at UN General Assembly on September 27 in New York and then proceed to Washington for the summit meeting with President Barack Obama on September 30. 

All eyes are set on that meeting when Modi is also expected to raise concerns over US Immigration Bill that will affect Indian IT industry if passed in the current form. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S 744) imposes new and onerous restrictions and higher fees on H-1B and L1 visa programmes on the international IT services sector and would create an uneven playing field.

Modi's visit is also expected to iron out bilateral differences over Intellectual Property Rights particularly in the pharmaceutical industry, official sources told ET. Big ticket items for the visit include expansion in the defence partnership to not only launch joint production of equipment but also sharing perspectives on West Asia and East and Southeast Asia, sources indicated. 

Joint production and co-development that entails technology transfer is Modi's mantra to attain self-sufficiency in the defence sector in the long run. India has deep interests over energy security and its diaspora in West Asia where Arab Spring followed by radical ISIS movement has been destablising factors. Meanwhile, China's growing ambitions in East and Southeast Asia have been a matter of concern for both India and USA.

Among regional issues, situation in the Af-Pak region will dominate discussions, sources pointed out. India's energy demands are rising by the day and Modi will make efforts to source more energy from Washington including partnership in solar energy and importing LNG and shale gas. There willfolbe considerable focus on clean energy partnership, an official said. While Modi would seek transfer of high-technology from the USA, the Obama administration would be keen to hear from him an environment conducive for investments after the policy paralysis in India since 2011, sources indicated. 

US is interested in the agriculture and food processing sectors including coldchains. Besides, interest is growing in USA about investments in industrial parks or zones, and water purification, water management and energy from waste as part of smart city projects in India. "The US administration and senators are looking forward to a visit that will energise the relationship and expect that Prime Minister Modi could give them a confidence to further expand and deepen ties," averred Robinder Sachdev, head of the India chapter of US India Political Action Committee, one of the influential India-American lobby groups said.

There are also indications US firm can invest in the Modi government's campaign to Clean India. Education, especially community colleges by USA in India could be one of the deliverables from the visit. Modi and Obama will also discuss India's nuclear liability law and ways to address concerns of US nuclear major Westinghouse. 

Courtesy: The Economic Times
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