Obama in India: 10 major takeaways for India & US from American President’s visit.
NEW DELHI: In a landmark visit, US President Barack Obama and PM Narendra Modi managed to agree on many important deals and committed that the two nations will be partners in economic progress.
The two leaders managed to put the civil nuclear deal to work, took defence cooperation up another notch, besides US endorsing India for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
Obama said the United States could be India’s “best partner” as he wrapped up a three-day visit by highlighting the shared values of the world’s biggest democracies.
All the bonhomie between the leaders, didn’t conceal the fact that India and the US got a great deal of work done after Modi broke with protocol to greet Obama and wife Michelle soon after Air Force One touched down, underlining their personal chemistry.
Delhi and Washington also decided to establish hotlines between the PM and president and also between their national security advisors, Modi said during the joint press conference with Obama after their summit meeting.
We take a look at ten major takeaways from Barack Obama’s India visit.
1) Indo-US nuclear logjam broken: The significance of the completion of the India-US nuclear deal cannot be overstated. Signed in 2005, with a Nuclear Suppliers Group waiver in 2008, the deal has been in limbo for few years.
The stage had been set for the nuclear deal in three rounds of dialogue by the bilateral contact group, particularly the last one in London last week, officials said.
While there were no immediate details on how the impasse had been broken, India will set up an insurance pool led by General Insurance Co and four other insurance companies of a total amount of Rs 750 crore to indemnify companies that build reactors in the country against liabilities in case of a nuclear accident.
The remaining Rs 750 crore of the total Rs 1,500 crore to offset liabilities will be provided by the government of India. This will address US concerns over clause 17 of the Indian Liability Act.
Besides this, Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi will address US concerns over clause 46 of the Act that allows for unlimited liabilities in case of a nuclear accident, officials said.
2) US announces $4 billion of new initiatives, trade missions:
Obama announced $4 billion of new initiatives aimed at boosting trade and investment ties as well as jobs in India, and opened up a whole new source of financing for social development ventures in the country through a new Indian Diaspora Investment Initiative.
The $4-billion deals include $2 billion of leveraged financing for renewable energy investments in India through the US Trade & Development Agency and $1 billion in loans for small and medium businesses across India through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, or OPIC.
Separately, the US Export-Import Bank would finance a billion dollars to support ‘Made in America’ exports to India over the next two years. Obama also announced that two US trade missions will be in India this year with a specific focus on infrastructure development in rail, roads, ports and airports.
3) Cutting red-tape, holding bureaucracy accountable: The US president also announced the creation of a High-Level US-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue to monitor progress on the pacts and vision statements laid out by PM Modi and President Obama. The mechanism, he said, would hold the bureaucracies of the two countries accountable for translating the vision of the two leaders into reality.
In a not-so-veiled criticism of the notorious Indian red tape, Obama said India still had “too many barriers, hoops to jump through, bureaucratic restrictions that make it hard to start a business or export or import or close a deal”.
“We hear this consistently from business leaders like you. PM Modi has announced reforms that will overcome some of these barriers, including a new committee dedicated to fast-tracking US investments. We need to be fostering a business environment that is more accountable and transparent,” he said.