Remarks by Ambassador (Retired) Atul Keshap to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on “Developing an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework”

“Developing an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework”

House Foreign Affairs Committee

March 1, 2022

Ambassador (ret.) Atul Keshap, Chairman, US-India Business Council, US Chamber of Commerce

Thank you to the Committee and Chair Gregory Meeks and Ranking Member Mike McCaul for convening this hearing. It is an honor to address you as the new Chairman of the US-India Business Council of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

More than 40 years ago, the US and Indian governments called for the establishment of USIBC to promote stronger two-way trade and investment between the world’s two largest democracies. Over the years, trade has exploded between our two countries, and there are still huge opportunities to develop it further. Our members strive to accelerate inclusive growth and create millions of high-quality jobs in both countries, particularly in research and development, the digital economy, health and life sciences and clean energy technologies.

I speak to you in service to this mission and as a retired US Ambassador with experience in the Indo-Pacific, including as an APEC envoy. On India, I appreciate the twenty years of sustained bipartisan efforts to forge a stronger and multi-faceted relationship. In my years of service in five administrations of both parties, I have seen early efforts to broaden our thinking to encompass a holistic geography grow into a strong consensus recognizing the centrality of the Indo-Pacific to our strategic interests. and our future prosperity.

It is high time that this centrality is reflected in our commercial doctrine. The rising economic power of our competitors and the heating up of geopolitical conflicts have given this issue a deep sense of urgency. I remain at heart an American diplomat and retain the characteristic optimism of our species. But it would be naive not to recognize a clear reality: there are forces that seek to alienate the United States and India and weaken global democracy. If the great democracies fail to unite to face this threat, authoritarian regimes will write the rules of the 21st century and we will live in a poorer and crueler world.

Right now, the United States and our Indo-Pacific allies are meeting the challenges of a post-pandemic recovery – with high inflation, talent shortages and supply chain bottlenecks. supply. Our adversaries assume that we lack both the economic confidence and the ability to coordinate to counter these challenges, leading them to question our leadership on the world stage.

In the competition with authoritarianism, our ability to work with allies and like-minded partners, along with the prosperity, ingenuity and confidence of our people, will be our greatest assets. The Indo-Pacific economic framework can be strengthened both by building a trade architecture that enables strategic cooperation and creates a secure supply chain for the free world, and by pursuing an abundance agenda that raises the living standards of Americans and billions of friends in the region. As the world’s sixth and fastest growing economy, site of both critical manufacturing capacity and scalable research and development, robust demographics and the world’s largest democracy, India will be a partner essential to generating mutual prosperity and creating a free global supply chain. .

To maximize its impact, the framework must allow the private sector to deliver. Our global technology companies will be key players ensuring secure and reliable access to critical technologies such as semiconductors; it will be private equity firms and our financial institutions that will provide the capital needed to fund climate-resilient development. The incentives and actions of these actors are set, enabled and constrained by the business architecture.

Trade is the muscle and nerve of our strategic relationships; the power of free enterprise advances the interests and values ​​expressed by governments and citizens. The plain truth is that real trade agreements that remove barriers, promote investment and align regulatory approaches are the most effective way to enable the level of cooperation envisioned by the Indo-Pacific Strategy and align our industry partners. private about his goals. The Chamber prepared business recommendations for the Indo-Pacific economic framework and shared them with the administration. We are also happy to share them with the committee.

With this framework, we have the opportunity to overcome trade hesitation and show our people what we can achieve for them by expanding our economic partnerships with like-minded partners and allies. During the Cold War, we prioritized the economic confidence of our people, whose lives were so much more abundant, free and happy than those of our adversaries. We have argued for democracy through our prosperity. Today we have the opportunity and the need to do so once again, and this time through our friendship and cooperation with the region where nearly half of humanity lives. Let’s have faith in our values ​​and in our friends, and move forward with conviction and focus.

Thank you.

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