Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state Visit, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said economic ties are at the heart of the Indo-U.S. strategic partnership and added that the two countries are helping shape innovations of the future and the norms governing them.
Mr. Modi has been invited by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for an official state visit, which will include a State Dinner on June 22.
Addressing the annual India Ideas Summit of the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) here on Monday, Mr. Blinken said, “At the heart of our strategic partnership is our economic ties. And under the leadership of President Biden and Prime Minister Modi — and private sector leaders like you — it is growing stronger by the day.” Mr. Blinken added that last year, trade between the two countries reached a record $191 billion, making the U.S. the largest trading partner for India. American companies have invested at least $54 billion in India — from manufacturing to telecommunications.
In the U.S., he said, Indian companies have invested over $40 billion — in IT, pharmaceuticals and more — supporting 4,25,000 jobs from California to Georgia.
This February, Air India announced the historic purchase of more than 200 Boeing aircraft that will support an estimated one million-plus jobs across 44 States, the diplomat said during his address.
“We’re here ahead of a historic State Visit by Prime Minister Modi — one that will further solidify what President Biden has called a ‘defining relationship’ of the 21st century,” Mr. Blinken said. “We see this defining relationship in our unique connection as the world’s oldest and largest democracies, with a special obligation to demonstrate that our governments can deliver for and empower all our citizens.” Mr. Blinken said both the U.S. and India are making transformative investments in their own countries — through Mr. Biden’s $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Mr. Modi’s ₹100-trillion infrastructure plan — to make their respective economies more productive and attractive for investors.
“India has joined three pillars of our new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework — committing to build more resilient supply chains, seize clean energy opportunities and combat corruption,” he said.
“Together, we are helping shape the innovations of the future and the norms governing them — from artificial intelligence to quantum computing,” Mr. Blinken said and added that in January, USIBC co-hosted a roundtable where the two governments inaugurated a new Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies.
“We’re elevating and expanding the strategic technology partnership between governments, businesses, and academic institutions in the U.S. and India because we believe how technology is designed and used should be informed by democratic values and respect for human rights,” he said.
Central to that cooperation is diversifying and deepening the supply chains with trusted countries while also reducing strategic dependencies, he said.
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and her counterpart Union Commerce and Industries Minister Piyush Goyal recently established a partnership to make the semiconductor supply chain more resilient.
In Tamil Nadu, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation provided $500 million to help a leading U.S. company build a solar manufacturing facility. This project will power roughly 30 million light bulbs in homes, schools, and businesses across India, create over a thousand jobs for Indians and Americans, and shift a key component of the U.S.’ clean energy supply chain to a close partner, the diplomat noted.
According to Mr. Blinken, the trajectory of the Indo-US partnership is unmistakable and filled with promise.
“It is being written in places like North Carolina, where our growing engagement is benefiting both our countries,” he said.
The Tar Heel State has become a hub for Indian investment with tech companies such as HCL creating 2,400 jobs and training American high-schoolers for careers in the IT industry.
On the other hand, Charlotte-based Honeywell is employing 13,000 people from Kolkata to Mumbai, making safer airplanes and energy-efficient buildings. Duke University has established a presence in Bangalore, strengthening academic and research exchanges between the people of the two countries, he said.
According to the top diplomat, one North Carolina entrepreneur from Gujarat — commenting on this explosion of U.S.-India commercial activity — observed, “‘This couldn’t have happened 15 years ago’.”