U.S. President Donald Trump has made his “America First” approach quite clear when it comes to the U.S. trade relations with the world. Trump has accused India of charging a 100% tariff on some U.S. goods, and his administration has taken a tougher view on immigration, especially with respect to tighter H1B visa norms.
Despite this, the business communities of both countries seem to be focussing on the need to enhance the bilateral trade between India and the U.S. Speaking at the 43rd annual meeting of the U.S. India Business Council (USIBC) in Mumbai, the first ever to be held outside India, Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, stressed on the need to bolster ties between both nations and welcome Indian workers into the U.S.
Donohue said that U.S. is staring at a demographic problem with not enough young workers ready to replace the retirees going forward. He added that the solution to this problem wold be to open up the country to high skilled workers, especially from India.
“The Chamber is making a case to the government for welcoming with open arms high skilled workers from India into our country,” he said.
He went on to say that there is a general agreement across the U.S. government that their relationship with India is a priority and that India is at the centre for U.S. pland for growth in Asia.
Two-way trade between India and the U.S. has crossed the $125 billion mark. Donohue said the goal is to take this figure to $500 billion by 2025.
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) as well as USIBC and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have drawn up a roadmap to achieve this jump in Indo-U.S. trade. The roadmap identifies key sectors that can act as major drivers, including the digital economy, aerospace and defence, energy, infrastructure and manufacturing. It also includes a series of roundtables with various stakeholders and regional discussions across several cities in both countries, following which recommendations will be presented to the government.
Explaining why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce believes increasing Indo-U.S. trade to $500 billion by 2025 is an achievable feat, Donohue stressed on the growing middle-class in India which presents an opportunity for U.S. businesses.
He also pointed out that the growth trajectory on online shoppers in India also presents a huge opportunity to e-commerce companies in the U.S. Infrastructure investments into India was another point touched upon by Donohue, who stressed that India’s requirement on this front is an estimated $4.5 trillion going forward, and that the government cannot bear this cost on its own.
“The time is now to establish a framework between both countries,” he said, adding that a mutually beneficial system of rules that can allow for free flow of people and commerce is required.