India and US are trying to re-energise their relationship, driven by closer defence, business and energy ties, as secretary of state John Kerry accompanied by commerce secretary Penny Pritzke arrive in New Delhi on July 30 for strategic dialogue as well as to touch base with the Narendra Modi government.
Four years after President Barack Obama termed India-US ties as one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century, the ties are yet to match the billing, and a slew of issues have dampened the ties in the last years of the UPA-II.
While hopes on imparting a new momentum to the ties are high, the two sides have a lot of ground to cover, with differences persisting over India’s nuclear liability law as well as its position on intellectual property rights.
Kerry will chair the India-US strategic dialogue with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
The US has been pitching for greater defence ties with India and now, with the FDI cap on defence production raised, the two countries are set to take the next steps in “co-production and co-development” and taking the relationship beyond a buyer-seller relationship.
Though the US would like to have their firms have controlling stakes, on the agenda for the meeting will be the next-generation javelin missile, as well as an unmanned aerial vehicle programme.
India is also looking at greater cooperation in shale gas. The US is keen to expand its export basket to India along with investment in the hopes that the Indian economy will re-vitalise under PM Modi.
However, the US has been nudging India on the nuclear liability law, which has strict supplier-liability clause. The US supplier firms have so far cited the huge insurance they have had to take, saying it will reflect badly in their books besides raising concerns about the Indian liability being inconsistent with the international liability regimes.
There have been huge differences between India and US on the intellectual property issues and “protectionism”. The US believes India falls short in protecting US patents, copyrights and other intellectual property rights.