India and the United States must have a Free Trade Agreement for the protection of their businesses and people, Atul Keshap, the new president of the influential US India Business Council (USIBC) has said.
"It's incumbent upon both governments to be ambitious. It's incumbent upon well-wishers like USIBC and our member companies to show the pathway forward on the trade issues on investment. You know, we need a framework," Keshap told PTI in a recent interview.
"And FTA (free trade agreement) is something that we absolutely need to have between US and India for the protection and wellbeing of Indian companies and American companies, and the wellbeing of both of our peoples. So we should be ambitious, we should set bold goals," the veteran American diplomat said.
The former US foreign service official joined USIBC as its head this month.
"I would like to see continued growth on the strategic side. I feel like much good work has been done. In fact, so much so that I felt comfortable moving over to work on trade and economic issues. But there is still scope on the strategic side and we should continue to be close friends and continue our collaboration, he said.
Responding to a question, he noted the recently concluded Trade Policy Forum between the two countries had good outcomes in terms of addressing some of trade issues.
"I would love to see more good energy and outcomes from that. I do think it's important for us to start talking about how we frame our standards on digital economy and thereby will have an impact on the framing of global standards on the digital economy," Keshap said.
The pandemic has shown us that we have to be very, very watchful about supply chain issues. There have been a lot of supply chain crunches over the past couple of years. And to the extent that the US and India can work on creating a more seamless supply chain that connects our two economies and weaves in the broader Indo-Pacific, I think that's also very, very important, he said.
"Sky's the limit. Every time I look around at the potential in the relationship, I realise we've really only just begun. Twenty years of solid work and effort have gotten us to this point, and there's plenty of upside, Keshap said, who has earlier served as the US' charge 'de affairs in New Delhi.
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