'America First' and 'Make in India' are compatible: Envoy Juster


The ambassador said US President Donald Trump's "America First" programme and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government's "Make in India" policy are not incompatible.

"India can seize the strategic opportunity through trade and investment to become an alternative hub for United States business in the Indo-Pacific region", he said, delivering a policy speech, the first since he took over as Ambassador to India in November. "So we are a country of immigrants and that's what helped drive our economy and growth and made us where we are and that's not going to change", he said while delivering his first policy speech since taking over as ambassador.

"A number of USA companies have reported increasing difficulties conducting business in the largest market in the region - China", Juster added, "India can seize the strategic opportunity - through trade and investment - to become an alternative hub for US business in the Indo-Pacific region". Accordingly, some companies are downgrading their operations there, while others are looking with great interest in alternative markets.

Bilateral trade has increased from approximately $ 20 billion in 2001 to $ 115 billion in 2016. "Of course, given the size of our respective markets, there is still a plenty of room to expand the flow of goods and services in both directions and, in the process, for trade to become more reciprocal", he said. He said the USA want to work with India to expeditiously resolve trade and investment disputes.

"We seek to assist India's efforts to build up its indigenous defence base and capabilities, as well as enhance the inter-operability of our two forces as major defence partners in the Indo-Pacific region", he said.

Talking about the Indo-Pacific region, the envoy said that the US National Security Strategy recognises India as a leading power in region and beyond.

However, the U.S. on Tuesday made its stand clear that the aid to Pakistan has only been suspended not cut-off, as it wanted the country to take an aggressive approach in eliminating terrorism. On China and the new global philosophy, Juster said, "Our strategy in the Indo-Pacific is an affirmative strategy. we want to have a constructive relationship with every country in the region. with mutual respect, that does not infringe on the sovereignty of other countries. we want to have a constructive relationship with the Chinese. And that's not going to change", he said.

When asked why the terror groups which were active against India were not named while the suspension of the aid, Juster said, "Pakistan is important too for the situation in Afghanistan".

Pivoting to science and technology, Juster called them the fourth pillar of the relationship and noted collaborations between ISRO and NASA as well as the joint strides in medical innovation.

"Don't think we will get stability in Afghanistan if Pakistan does not positively contribute".