US President Donald Trump just called up PM Narendra Modi and said that India is his ‘true friend’. But should India, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, depend on a highly improbable ‘friend’? Narendra Modi was the fifth head of state whom Trump called after his inauguration to the post of possibly the most powerful chair in the world. America has the habit of making the world see itself through its own lens, irrespective of who is at the helm of things. While, earlier, for most of history it was as easy as falling off a log, Donald Trump will not be predictable. When it comes to foreign policies, Trump is ambiguous to the core. From nuclear strategies to trade navigation routes, it is yet unclear what America will give up and what it will take in, in the new world order in Asia. With the way Trump has been vocal against some countries and trade deals with them, it all seems like a bargain. However, in an interesting turn of event, now Trump has quit the Pacific trade pact among 12 nations.
The Trade pact between 12 Pacific Rim nations was one of the biggest achievements of Obama government, which Trump wiped off in a jiffy. The trade pact was among US-Mexico, Singapore, Australia, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Canada, New Zealand, Peru and Chile. This pact had the potential of creating an EU style trade partnerships between countries which constitute almost half of world trade. Interestingly, this is good for India. Along with China, India is away from the trade pact. This essentially means there is now, little danger of the decrease in demand for Indian products in usual markets like Europe and US. Meanwhile, this decision has affected other Asian countries, like Vietnam, which could have got duty free treatment, which ironically would have been tough for India had the pact would have run its course. This means, now India should look inwards, to find friends in the Asian market, which will be good for the continent as a whole.
Meanwhile, Trump is in confrontation terms with China in more ways than one, including in politics and economy. This means that the US would pressurise China in a lot of ways and that will make many Asian countries happy, especially since the world and Asia, in particular, is moving in a multi-polar economy. Additionally, looking at other campaign highlights, it seems Trump will not be too interested in Asia, as the US will now be more aimed towards bilateral issues. This means, now, more than ever, there is a need for Asian countries to move closer and work with co-operative politics to maintain freedom and prosperity.
Asian countries, however vast, have common interests in the trade as the growth and stability depends on mutual cooperation. With Trump’s attack against Mexico and the likes, it seems Asian countries, in order to maintain their sovereignty and keep trade relations free of it, should look for common ties in connectivity and infrastructure. Interestingly, China, despite its trade routes, is still as closed as ever, which gives India a huge change to capture the market but it needs to shoulder more responsibility in order to succeed. For this to happen, even Japan has to begin asserting its authority, especially in infra trades. It can even try to make the Pacific pact work without the US. For India to make an entry into it, it needs to work towards it with more determination. India needs to provide enough assertion, in order to influence sea routes which China considers its own. For this to happen, it needs to work towards implementing a more inclusive and transparent strategy among the other stakeholders. There is a dire need to build more diplomacy and economic work, including more trust by overcoming historical issues, in order to make this succeed. By making Asia, work like Europe, India has a chance to build its own providence ahead of China.