The India visit of US President Barack Obama needs to be considered as more than just visuals, a top Republican lawmaker has said while stressing that the historic trip is “a jump start chance not to be missed”.
Congressman Ed Royce, who is chairman of the powerful House Foreign Relations Committee, yesterday said that the Obama trip should result in substantial progress in key areas of trade and commerce, renewing of the defence framework agreement and headway in the long-stalled US India Civil Nuclear Agreement.
“President Obama’s second trip to India and his participation in India’s Republic Day ceremonies is greatly symbolic of the deep partnership between our two countries. But this visit needs to be about more than just good visuals. The critical US relationship with India has lagged in the last several years. This visit is a jump start chance not to be missed,” Royce said in a statement.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promises of re-energising the India economy, the administration needs to make serious strides in promoting stronger trade relations, he said.
“While the US and India have made progress in recent years in bolstering bilateral trade, we haven’t come close to realising the full potential of this relationship,” he added.
“If we’re to meet the administration’s goal of USD 500 billion in bilateral trade, the president needs to take significant steps in helping to open up Indian markets.
“With an Indian American community that significantly contributes to our most innovative business sectors, they will undoubtedly play a larger role in the years to come. Greater support for high skilled immigration through H-1B visas is an important issue,” Royce said.
“The President should also make headway in the long-stalled US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, since the legislation’s passage in 2006, little progress has been made. The Administration has prioritised energy cooperation to help India meet its significant needs.
“Implementation of the Civil Nuclear Agreement would be a major step towards that goal and a win for American business,” said the Congressman who is the former co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans.
Royce said renewing the Defence Framework Agreement and improving intelligence cooperation must also be top priority.
Signed in 2005, this agreement is crucial to enhancing defence cooperation and intelligence sharing, he said.
“With the significant threat that India faces from radicalism, renewing the Defence Framework Agreement should be a top priority. We also need to see an increase in high-level visits by each country’s various intelligence and security agencies. Our cooperation is strong, but there remains a need for greater engagement,” Royce said.