India and the US are close to concluding a trade package that would provide enhanced market access to both countries, Outgoing Indian Ambassador to the United States and the newly appointed India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who will leave Washington later this month, has said.
Shringla made the comments while addressing a group of Indian-American entrepreneurs during a farewell lunch on Friday last week organized for him by TiE DC, a regional chapter of the global non-profit membership and mentoring organization for entrepreneurs. “We are close to concluding a trade package that would provide enhanced market access to both countries,” Shringla said during the event.
Shringla, who is scheduled to leave for India later this month, said that the India- US bilateral trade has increased significantly in the last one decade and it is expected to be over USD160 billion by 2019. Noting that there are a lot of complementarities between the Indian and the US economy, the Ambassador said that Indian-American entrepreneurs and in particular organizations like TiE DC play an important part in strengthening these bilateral ties, not only people to people but also economic and strategic relationship.
Ravi Puli, an entrepreneur from TiE DC, said that in just about a year, Shringla has made a great impact on India-US relationship. “As an ambassador, he has taken the US- India relations to a level that all of us are feeling very proud and we are looking forward to take it even further with his leadership as a foreign secretary of India,” he said. The event was attended by eminent Indian-American entrepreneurs from in and around Washington DC and leaders of other chapters from various parts of the country.
Ambassador Shringala was accorded a spate of farewells, including by the Trump administration, the Congressional leadership and America Inc., and a reception hosted by Shringla himself, where spiritual guru Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, offered blessings to the departing envoy.
The Jan. 10 reception at the ambassador’s residence, now known as India House, was attended by nearly 500 members of the Indian American community from across the country, senior administration officials, Congressional staffers and leading policy wonks from all of DC’s think tanks.
At the reception, Sadhguru after reciting a shloka, predicted that the U.S.-India ties would mature with Shringla at the helm of diplomacy as India’s next foreign secretary, declaring that this relationship is imperative to benefit the whole world.
“This relationship between the two most resilient democracies on the planet is not just important for these two nations,” he said, adding, “How we build this relationship will determine many things globally.”
Shringla, in his brief remarks, at the outset, said among much laughter that “there was an ambassador friend of mine, who was very fond of the saying that all good things have to come to an end, and so they must and this is where we are.”
He said, “The year 2019, has been a great year. We’ve had some ups and we’ve had some downs, but on the whole, we can welcome 2020 with the fullest satisfaction that the (U.S.-India) relationship that was extremely close, extremely cooperative, which had all the resonance of a very, very strong friendship has started 2020 with an even better, closer, and warmer relationship.” Shringla told the guests that he looked forward to “seeing you in Delhi,” and to more laughter, added, “With all the direct flights we started, it’s not too much of an effort.”
Thus, he said, “We look forward to seeing members of Congress, the administration, the media, businesses, those who are from the Indian community, and of course, all of our other friends who might not belong to these categories, are all welcome.”
“We look forward to staying in touch, staying connected and this is one thing I’ve said everywhere I’ve gone, that as I leave, I take with me the distinct feeling that we really have one of our most important relationships right here in the United States,” he said. “It is a relationship that will continue to be important for us in time to come, and you can be sure that out of Delhi, we will see how we can take this relationship forward in every way possible.” And Shringla reiterated, “Your help in that is absolutely indispensable.”
The outgoing Ambassador, who would take up his new assignment as India’s next foreign secretary later this month, however, did not give an exact date for the inking of the much anticipated trade deal. The trade deal was first announced by US President Donald Trump when he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
At a reception accorded him by the State Department and held at the historic Blair House, which sits opposite the White House, the Trump administration’s point person for the subcontinent, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Alice Wells, predicted that Shringla would be “the captain” of the U.S.-India relationship. “It has been extraordinary, what you have been able to achieve,” she said. Wells, who was headed to India later that week to attend the Raisina Dialogue, pointed out that Washington and New Delhi have been working for the last two decades to realize the goal of becoming “a natural partner,” referring to a term that was first coined by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his visit to the U.S.
Earlier on Jan. 7, at a farewell for him hosted by the US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) — a breakaway group from the USIBC, which is headed by Mukesh Aghi, who earlier was president of the USIBC, Shringla said, “What we are really looking for is to provide the basis for an exclusive partnership in trade between our two countries that can give US companies preferential market access to India and Indian companies the preferential market access to the United States.”
Shringla made the comments while addressing a group of Indian-American entrepreneurs during a farewell lunch on Friday organised for him by TiE DC, a regional chapter of the global non-profit membership and mentoring organization for entrepreneurs.
India and the US are close to concluding a trade package that would provide enhanced market access to both countries, India’s outgoing Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said. Shringla made the comments while addressing a group of Indian-American entrepreneurs during a farewell lunch on Friday organized for him by TiE DC, a regional chapter of the global non-profit membership and mentoring organization for entrepreneurs. “We are close to concluding a trade package that would provide enhanced market access to both countries,” Shringla said during the event.
Ever the quintessential diplomat, outgoing ambassador and India’s next foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said the hiring of a second lobbying firm, is to engage a changed U.S. Congress, although it was apparently prompted by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives’ India-bashing over the humanitarian crisis and communications blockade in the aftermath of the Indian government’s repeal of Article 370 that provided special status to this only Muslim-majority state in the country.
Shringla acknowledged that the few U.S. lawmakers who continue to be critical of the Indian government’s actions and “are pushing on his issue, perhaps because they don’t have a full understanding of the situation or they don’t want to have that, but as I’ve said, we have fully engaged with Congress and will continue to do that.”
He said he had instructed “all my colleagues that this is the highest priority — not the other things you are doing — and whatever you have, you drop that and you go and meet people, meet Congressmen, meet staffers, but get our point of view across, so that they can take into account,” the efforts of the government of India to alleviate the situation in Kashmir.
“And, it’s not a one-off thing. You have to constantly go and update them on the situation,” Shringla said. But he said, “There are some like Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Rashida Tlaib (D.-Mich.), and Ilhan Omar that are pushing a certain line that seems to be rigid. We’ve tried to engage them, we’ve tried to explain to them the situation, but despite that, the formulation they’ve come up with, as to how they would like Congress to look at it, is counter-productive, besides being factually incorrect and not reflective of the current situation.” Shringla argued, “If you are not open-minded, if you are not objective on this issue, there is not much anyone can do.
Last month, the Indian government hired Cornerstone Government Affairs for an initial period of three months through end February to represent it in Washington for a contract worth $40,000 a month, for which Cornerstone — in a filing with the Department of Justice — said it would provide its client with “strategic counsel, tactical planning and government relations assistance on policy matters before the U.S. Government, the U.S. Congress, and select state governments, as well as academic institutions and think-tanks.”