Trump and Modi Should Continue 'Natural, Strategic' U.S.-India Partnership

Kevin Rudd on BBC World

On June 26, 2017, Asia Society Policy Institute President Kevin Rudd spoke on BBC World about the recent meeting between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India.

Rudd emphasized the strategic and economic interests for the U.S. in strengthened U.S.-India ties and the potential for cooperation between the two countries. According to Rudd, Modi will use this first engagement to gauge whether the bilateral relations will continue on the same favorable trajectory as under the previous two U.S. administrations. Going forward, India hopes for increased attention, while Trump has an opportunity to state “the fundamentals of what should be a natural, strategic, and economic partnership between these two very large countries.” 

Despite growing areas of agreement between India and the U.S., such as defense cooperation, Rudd believes points of contention will lie on the commercial and immigration fronts. “Trump and his administration have placed enormous emphasis in each bilateral relationship on the state of the trade deficit,” but Rudd advised that the Trump administration would be wise to dismiss such concerns. Meanwhile, the H-1B Visa program for foreign workers is an issue that has spurred political debate, particularly within the Indian domestic political environment. Rudd stated, “it’s critical that we do not see an excessive emphasis by the Trump administration on cutting and slashing the number of Indian professionals coming to the United States each year.” 

Ultimately, in efforts towards improving trade, Rudd highlighted the necessity for “heavy doses of strategic patience.” He believes it will take multiple fronts to push India to recognize that “open trading relationships and open investment relationships are the keys to [the nation’s] future economic success.” (7 min., 51 sec.) 

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