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Roving Periscope: China’s ‘threat’ good for US-India ties, FTA, says Issa

Roving Periscope: China’s ‘threat’ good for US-India ties, FTA, says Issa


Virendra Pandit 


New Delhi: As the world’s two largest democracies gear up for national elections this year, an influential Republican lawmaker has said the “threat” posed by an aggressive but economically declining China offers an opportunity to India and the US.

The two democracies can make strong agreements, including a genuine Free Trade Agreement (FTA), to ensure that they consider each other as first partners, Darrell Issa, Republican Congressman from California, said during a conversation with Aparna Pande, Research Fellow, India, and South Asia with the think tank Hudson Institute, Washington, on Monday.

He admitted that the current India-US relationship seems to be based on the China threat, but “I view this (China threat) as an opportunity to do with that we did not do.”

The items produced in China could be produced in India, at substantially similar costs (and), it would more than allow for India to substantially replace its dirty fuel with clean fuel, Issa said, according to the media reports on Wednesday.

To go ahead with it, the two countries should make strong agreements, including a genuine FTA, ensuring that they two will look at each other as first partners.

“I think we’re a long way down the road toward doing it,” he said at the event “A Conversation with Rep. Darrell Issa on the US-South Asia Relations.”

“Who are the people running some of our largest and most successful companies in the United States? Who are the innovators in the United States? Who dominates our universities? Answers quite frankly — Indian exchange students, who want to remain here, and Chinese students, who China wants to take back to China! We can harness those together. We already have,” Issa noted.

He said he has been working on immigration reforms for 20 years and has seen that the number one challenge for Indian H-1B and other temporary visa programs (for people) who want to become permanent residents and citizens. He acknowledged that the backlog is huge.

Advocating the FTA, Issa said, India and the US cannot be partners only against something and expect it to last. Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and for that matter, the NATO alliance … all have common sides. But they also have ever-growing FTAs, and mutual agreements to share technology. They also have companies that are headquartered in one and substantially doing business in the other.

The same has to be done for India. Are we equal partners? No, we’re not. We have more money; you have more people. We have more people who want to be lawyers. You have more people who want to be engineers, he said.

The Republican Congressman observed how the Indian and the US societies share many of the same values, but approach the work ethic and the education ethic in a substantially different way in which the shortages in the US are disproportionately able to be filled in partnership with India.

“I don’t believe in one world. I believe that the world is made up of partnerships. And a partner of one to another is bilateral. But when a partner of one has five other partners and invites them into that relationship, then you build a multilateral relationship,” he said.

Responding to a question on the upcoming elections in Pakistan, Issa said the country does not have a free and fair election.

Pakistan, at best, has elections in which somebody can win despite the incumbent system pushing against them. But that means the only time there’s a change in power in Pakistan is when it gets really bad when the people are so adamantly opposed, that despite all that, there is a change.




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