India and US share same strategic perspective on Indo Pacific: USIBC president

India and US share same strategic perspective on Indo Pacific: USIBC president

San Francisco, Nov 15 (PTI) India and the US share the same strategic perspective on the Indo-Pacific, the head of a top American business advocacy group has said, as leaders from the region gathered here for the APEC Leaders’ Summit.

“I think the United States and India absolutely share the same strategic perspective on the Indo-Pacific. We are Quad partners and that is vitally important,” US India Business Council (USIBC) president Atul Keshap told PTI in an interview on the eve of the much-anticipated meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping here on the outskirts of the city.

Biden and Xi are due to meet in San Francisco on Wednesday morning and then attend the annual summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

“Whatever happens between our president and Xi Jinping is of course on a totally separate track. But where the United States and India really share commonality is about our shared belief in a rules-based international order, about shared access to all of the commons, including freedom of navigation, freedom of commerce, peaceful resolution of disputes, sovereignty, frankly, ensuring that nations have sovereignty and can exercise free choice,” he said on Tuesday.

Keshap said former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe talked about a free and open Indo-Pacific.

'And that’s really what Quad is all about, is ensuring that not only our four countries have those choices, but that Fiji or Tuvalu or the Solomon Islands or Sri Lanka or Maldives or Madagascar also have those choices. So I think our partnership is critical and it's going to go through the entire 21st century,” he said.

In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the 'Quad' to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.

China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Beijing has also made substantial progress in militarising its man-made islands in the past few years.

Beijing claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. But Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims. In the East China Sea, China has territorial disputes with Japan.

Responding to a question, Keshap, who has served as the Charge d'affaires of the US embassy in India, said India-US cooperation in APEC is really critically important.

“We now find ourselves increasingly in the same strategic and economic baskets in the Indo-Pacific. I think the United States and India ought to lead the world on rules for the digital economy. We ought to lead the world in innovating rules of the road for artificial intelligence and semiconductors,' he said.

'We ought to ensure secure and stable supply chains of all of the vital components of our lives, including pharmaceuticals, that we need to collaborate with each other to develop these rules of the road for deep tech and future tech because if we don't, others will,” he said.

So India coming to the APEC is very important, he said.

'I used to be the US envoy for the APEC, and I mentioned 10 years ago that India ought to be a member of the APEC. I still believe that India ought to be a member of the APEC,' he said.

The world's greatest democracies ought to be out there batting for free trade. They ought to be batting for clear rules for the digital economy where our companies are leaders, Keshap said.

'We ought to be engaging in trade innovation, trade facilitation, lowering trade barriers, and sparking a new era of prosperity,” he said.

APEC is a forum of 21 Asia-Pacific economies. APEC's member economies are home to more than 2.9 billion people and make up over 60 per cent of the global GDP.

APEC members include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, China, Peru, South Korea, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, the US and Vietnam.

Earlier in the day, Keshap hosted US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal with member companies from the IT, tech and innovation sectors.

The meeting was primarily held to focus on how American and Indian companies and the governments can intensify the startup ecosystems of both countries, especially working with each other, he said.

Observing that the crucial ingredient of ties between the two countries is trust, he said everybody in these conversations talked about trust and shared values and the fact that the two democracies are 1.8 billion free people who have the spirit of innovation, risk-taking and entrepreneurship. PTI LKJ NSA AKJ NSA NSA

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