Ken Juster Says There’s A Need For A Free Trade Agreement Between US And India
India-West Staff Reporter
IRVINE, CA – To a sold-out audience at the World Affairs Council of Orange County on March 29, former Ambassador to India, Ken Juster discussing ‘U.S.-India Relations: Today & Tomorrow’ noted that while the bilateral trade has increased steadily over the years, there are still frictions and frustrations that limit the potential of the relationship. His hope was for a free-trade agreement between the nations to bolster relations further.
Emphasizing the importance of the bipartisan consensus on the U.S.-India relationship here in the United States, Juster pointed out that both Republicans and Democrats have pursued the relationship and built on the successes of their predecessors. However, he observed that neither party seems interested in pursuing a free trade agreement with India, which he believes is a strategic mistake. The divergence between the two parties is a matter of nuance; Republicans and Democrats have differences in their approach toward energy and human rights issues in India.
Juster spoke on a variety of Indo-US issues, led by the questions posed to him by Amritt CEO Gunjan Bagla. After the introduction by Attorney Ronak Desai of Paul Hastings, Bagla began the event, by giving a bird’s eye view of India and the US-India relations through the prism of Los Angeles. He played a segment of video from Ambassador Juster’s recent conversation in Delhi during the Raisina Dialog and another segment of the Ambassador on the basketball court from 2020 when the NBA brought the Sacramento Kings to India.
Bagla asked Juster to discuss the Quad, a grouping of the United States, India, Japan, and Australia. The Ambassador noted that from India’s perspective, the Quad is not primarily a security-oriented grouping since it also focuses on issues of the common good, such as vaccine distribution, cybersecurity, and critical emerging technologies. He explained why, today, the US should care about India: its growing economy, democratic government, and strategic importance as a counterbalance to China. He also emphasized the importance of people-to-people relationships and the Indian American community’s contributions to the relationship between the two countries.
In response to a question by Bagla, among other things, Juster advised Eric Garcetti, the newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to India, to understand the diversity and complexity of the country by getting outside of Delhi.