The United States and India not finalizing a trade deal despite the apparent bonhomie during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day visit demonstrates that the two countries’ economic models are not well aligned at this particular moment.
That was the reading of Milan Viashnav, senior fellow and director of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC.
In India, Vaishnav told indica News, there is an emphasis on protecting domestic industry and creating national champions.
“In America, the shadow of ‘America First’ looms large — even in the Biden administration,” he said. “While private sector flows continue to thrive, government cooperation on economic issues lags behind.
“Overall, I think the visit was a success,” Vaishnav said. “It allowed the two leaders [Modi and President Joe Biden] to meet face to face and get to know one another. It offered a much-needed opportunity to discuss critical global and regional issues, from Afghanistan to Covid.”
Most importantly, he said, “it showcased the renewed efforts of the Quad to build a partnership of likeminded democracies in the Asia-Pacific. It was never billed as a summit where big announcements were expected, so one should judge it accordingly.”
Asked about his impression of the Quad meeting, Modi meeting President Biden and a few CEOs too, Viashnav said that typically, these CEO meetings are glorified photo ops.
“So, whether there are four or 14 is not an important indicator,” he said.
“The Quad meeting, on the other hand, did send an important signal to China about the resolve these countries have in terms of offering an alternative vision for the Indo-Pacific,” Vaishnav added.
“I disagree with critics who said the meeting was style over substance. I think the joint statement was actually quite substantive.”