Biden-Modi meeting spurs deals

US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have highlighted a new era in the US-India relationship, with a focus on countering China’s global influence. The leaders announced deals in the areas of defence and commerce, aiming to strengthen the economic partnership and resolve long-standing trade-related issues. Biden emphasised the importance of a trade and investment partnership between the two countries, not only for their own economies but also for the global economy. Modi described the agreements as a new chapter in the strategic partnership between the nations.

The US sees India as a crucial partner in balancing China’s power and has sought closer ties to counter Beijing’s influence. While some analysts question India’s willingness to confront China on issues such as Taiwan, Washington recognises India’s potential as the world’s most populous country. Modi aims to enhance India’s influence on the global stage, particularly in light of strained relations with China. Both leaders emphasised the need for reliable and secure global supply chains and value chains amid global uncertainties.

The visit included a festive ceremony at the White House, featuring musical performances and a state dinner hosted by Biden. Sweeping agreements were announced in various areas, including semiconductors, critical minerals, technology, space cooperation, and defence cooperation and sales. These agreements aim to diversify supply chains and advance technologies critical to future conflicts. The US has been bolstering defence ties with countries like India to counter China’s rising influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Significant deals include General Electric’s agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to jointly manufacture engines in India for Indian Air Force fighter jets. This deal grants India access to critical American technologies and supports its goal of using homemade engines for indigenous jets. Micron Technology will invest over $800 million in a new semiconductor assembly and test facility, while other companies like Applied Materials and Lam Research will contribute to India’s semiconductor education and workforce development goals. India will also join the US-led Artemis Accords on space exploration and collaborate with NASA on a joint mission to the International Space Station.

While the agreements signify deepening cooperation between the US and India, concerns about democratic backsliding in India have been raised by some lawmakers. A few progressive Democrats have announced their boycott of Modi’s address to Congress. However, the flurry of agreements demonstrates the commitment of American companies to invest in India, and the leaders remain optimistic about the strong and futuristic partnership being forged, particularly in fields like artificial intelligence, semiconductors, space, quantum, and telecom.

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