As American companies diversify their supply chains, India becomes a natural partner, an influential U.S. lawmaker has said, asserting that the recent announcement of the Air India-Boeing deal is a demonstration of India modernising its civil aviation sector.
On Tuesday, Air India announced its agreement to purchase 190 Boeing 737 MAXs, 20 Boeing 787s, and 10 Boeing 777Xs – a total of 220 firm orders valued at a list price of $34 billion which will support more than one million American jobs across 44 states, many of which will not require a four-year college degree.
“We’ve realised through the pandemic; how dependent our supply chains have been on China. And when we are urging American companies to diversify their supply chains, India becomes a natural partner there. They are certainly in the pharmaceutical sector, they have a mature pharmaceutical sector, but also in defense production, other areas of technology, India has a very vibrant tech sector,” Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera told PTI.
Also Read | Air India’s jumbo order bares pilot pinch
He said India historically has been a nonaligned country but is increasingly becoming a bigger economic power, an important ally, working with the U.S. on maritime security and becoming its trading partner.
Mr. Bera was recently elected to serve as Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Indo-Pacific for the 118th Congress. He has also been selected by Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries to serve on the influential House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Referring to the recent announcement of the Indian Airlines-Boeing deal, he said that it is not only good for the U.S. but also a demonstration that India is modernising its airports.
Mr. Bera said Chinese President Xi Jinping has taken China in a very different direction than many had hoped 10 years ago, that the country would become a more open and democratic market.
“It’s obviously gotten very different. We do worry about some of the aggressiveness coming out of Beijing. The Chinese spy balloon just being the latest example of some of this aggressiveness. But you see it on India’s northern border. You see it in the South China Sea. You see it in Sri Lanka, how the Chinese have used economic coercion which really created a lot of debt in Sri Lanka, and now their economy is in a mess,” he said.
“I think we have to work together with our allies, Japan, [South] Korea, the European Union, and India to provide alternatives to many of these other countries that need development. Certainly, African countries are starting to be wary of China, that they again need that aid and development. I think this is another place where the United States and India can work together,” he said.
Mr. Bera said he has shared his thoughts with the Indian government on how the two countries could work together in Africa.
“India, obviously has a very deep and old relationship with Africa and there’s a large diaspora there. We work together with USAID and Indian development agencies. We can help bring up some of these markets to address some of the issues in Africa,” he said.
“The other initiative that President Biden started is the U2I2 comprising the U.S., the UAE, Israel and India. We have encouraged those four partners to work together on projects. The first projects will be in India around water management, around food security issues, and things like that. That’s a partnership that could also be a vehicle that can give us some areas for working together,” he said.
“We have always tried to get a trade deal with the Indians. Maybe the Indo-Pacific economic framework is that vehicle where we can no more formalise a trade agreement,” he said.
Mr. Bera said he would continue to strengthen America’s relationship with its allies in the Indo-Pacific region.
“India being one of those allies, but also Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. The last two years as chairman [of the House Foreign Affairs Sub Committee on Indo-Pacific] I focused really on Southeast Asia and the importance of this region, continue to hope to do that work in the minority, and continue to build our presence and relationship in Southeast Asia,” he said.
“India is increasingly becoming a very important geopolitical ally. I look forward to working with Chairman McCaul and the chairs on the subcommittee Yong Kim, to continue to travel to the region that really builds on those types,” Mr. Bera said.