US woos India as tech partner to counter China

US woos India as tech partner to counter China

US woos India as tech partner to counter China

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U.S. and Indian officials agreed on Tuesday to expand cooperation on advanced weaponry, supercomputing, semiconductors and other high-tech areas, as the Biden administration seeks to strengthen its ties with its Asian allies and to compensate for China’s dominance in advanced technologies.


The agreements follow two days of high-level meetings in Washington between government officials and heads of dozens of companies, the first as part of a new dialogue on critical and emerging technologies that President Biden and the Prime Indian minister, Narendra Modi, announced in Tokyo in May.

Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, told reporters on Tuesday that the goal was for tech partnerships to be “the next big step” in U.S.-India relations after a 2016 agreement on technology cooperation. nuclear energy. He described the effort as “a fundamental part of a comprehensive strategy to put the entire democratic Indo-Pacific world in a position of strength.”

The deals will be a test of whether the Biden administration can achieve its “friendshoring” proposal by moving manufacturing of certain critical components to friendly countries. Biden officials have expressed concerns about the United States’ continued heavy reliance on China for semiconductors, telecom parts and other important goods. In recent months, they have cracked down on the sale of advanced semiconductor technologies to China, in an effort to thwart an industry that the White House says could give China a military advantage.

Many companies have struggled to secure the factory space and skilled workers they would need to move their supply chains out of China. India has a highly skilled workforce and a government keen to attract more international investment, but multinationals seeking to operate there continue to complain of onerous regulations, inadequate infrastructure and poor infrastructure. other barriers.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Modi are also propelling closer U.S.-India cooperation in efforts to strengthen their countries’ industrial and innovation bases, Mr. Sullivan said.

The partnerships announced on Tuesday include an agreement between US and Indian national science agencies to cooperate on artificial intelligence and advanced wireless technology, as well as other areas.

The countries also pledged to accelerate their efforts to jointly produce and develop certain defense technologies, including jet engines, artillery systems and armored infantry vehicles. The United States said it would seek to quickly consider a new proposal from General Electric to produce a jet engine with India.

The officials also said they would work together to facilitate the construction of an advanced mobile network in India and seek new cooperation in semiconductor production, including efforts to help India strengthen research and production of chips that would complement major investments in the industry in the United States. states.

The new dialogue would include efforts to overcome regulatory hurdles, as well as visa restrictions that have prevented talented Indians from working in the United States, the countries said.

But experts said India should continue to reform its licensing and taxation system to attract more foreign manufacturing companies. And the United States should reform restrictions on the transfer of defense-related technology outside the country, they said, if it hopes to work with India to produce jet engines and other weapons. advances.

Analysts also noted that many tech partnerships would depend on new connections between countries’ private sectors, meaning deals could only go so far.

India’s frequent purchases of Russian military equipment and its close ties with Russia also present another wrinkle to the planned partnership. But Biden officials have said they believe the cooperation could hasten India’s move away from Russia, to the benefit of its relationship with the United States.

On Monday, Sullivan, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and India’s national security adviser Ajit Doval met with more than 40 business executives, university presidents and others, including Lockheed executives Martin, Tata, Adani Defense and Aerospace and Micron Technology.

“It has the potential to take US-India relations to the next level,” said Tanvi Madan, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, of the initiative. The trick, she added, will be “to move from potential and promise to results”.

“A lot of the decisions to collaborate or not will be made in the private sector, and companies will weigh the business case as much as, if not more than, the strategic analysis,” Madan said.

India has traditionally been known as a difficult partner for the United States in trade negotiations. In the talks the Biden administration is currently conducting in Asia, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Forum, India has pulled out of the trade part of the deal, although it has continued to negotiate in areas such as clean energy, supply chains and labour. standards.

But analysts said the Indian government was far more driven by national security issues, and particularly tempted by the prospects of working with the United States to develop cutting-edge technology industries.

“We both have a common goal here, which is the fear that China will eat our lunch in every sector unless we find areas of cooperation and collaboration,” said Richard M. Rossow, senior adviser. at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


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