Must construct tips for Indo-Pacific, says Juster

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 5

The outgoing US Ambassador to India, Kenneth Juster, on Tuesday suggested that over the next five years India and the US should jointly draw redlines in the maritime domain. “Our mission over the next five years and beyond should be to give this (Quad) endeavour further form and substance — to develop guidelines and, if necessary, even redlines,” he observed while speaking at a webinar.

The US envoy was not convinced that Indian economic reforms based on the Aatmanirbhar Bharat policy were enough to attract US firms from China. “It remains to be seen whether all of these policies are compatible and mutually reinforcing, or whether they will lead to higher tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade,” he said.

Juster admitted to “frictions and frustrations” on the trade and investment front and the inability of both countries to conclude “even a small trade package”. Moreover, there were growing restrictions in India on market access for certain US goods and services, increasing tariffs, new limitations on the free flow of data, and a less-than-predictable regulatory environment for investors, complained the US Ambassador.

Suggesting that India should not be fixated on the price of the imported military equipment, he suggested that defence procurement should be about quality and strategic interoperability across services and “perhaps even with other friendly forces”. Making a case for a deeper Indian involvement in the Indo-Pacific region, Juster said over 50 per cent of international trade passed through its waters, rich in natural resources and fast becoming the centre of gravity of the evolving international system.

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