Washington: The meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama has signalled a forward movement in bilateral strategic ties with key agreements signed in defence and energy sectors, eminent American experts have said.
"I think it was a very important trip in difficult times for both sides. There is political turmoil both in the US and India. So it is all the more important that there be continuity to show that the US-India relationship is going forward no matter what the events of the day may be," Raymond Vickery, senior director at Albright Stonebridge said.
"I think that combined with the strong personal relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Singh was a very important sign to give that this is going forward," Vickery said.
During the Clinton Administration, Vickery served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Development, where he was responsible for India in the Department's Big Emerging Markets initiative.
Vickery identified pre-early works agreement between Westinghouse and NPCIL and joint defense declaration as the key achievements of the India-US summit.
The Westinghouse-NPCIL agreement should facilitate progress toward licensing the AP-1000 nuclear reactor technology in India.
Taking their defence ties to a new level, the two countries also decided to undertake joint development and production of military hardware, involving transfer of high-end technology from America, bringing India at par with closest US allies.
"We have a strong mutual interest in fighting terrorism and the fact is that US technology with regard to homeland security, in regard to border patrol, coast guard operation is important," he said.
Acknowledging that there are a lot of problems in US- India trade and investment relationship, Vickery said there is "entirely too much negativity", and described the recently launched anti-India campaign as purely "inside the Beltway thing".
Ganging up against India on one issue or the other, he argued, really does not reflect the true relationship on trade and investment.
"We have now scheduled not only the energy dialogue; we have made commitments with regard to the bilateral investment treaty. We are setting up a meeting of the trade policy forum. So those things are going to go forward," Vickery said.
US companies have alleged unfair policies by India designed to benefit a few Indian corporations at the expense of manufacturing and jobs in America and other countries around the world.
Vickery was also critical of those who think that the present UPA Government would not do anything before the general elections next year.
"I just remind them, only eight months before the last elections, Prime Minister Singh got through the Parliament the civil nuclear deal. And if he could do that, we can get together the preparations needed to make real progress. This is too important relationship, just to let it drift and let it go sideways," he said.
"I think that is the true message of the Prime Minister meeting with the President," Vickery added.
Richard Rossow, director for South Asia, McLarty Associates, said the Obama-Singh meeting was better than most people's expectations.
The Westinghouse and NPCIL agreement, he said, is a step in the right direction.
"The US needs to work with India in areas which are more in India's strategic interest," he said and listed out the announcement of the joint working group on manufacturing as one of the key achievements of the trip.
Responding to a question on the anti-India campaign by some business groups ahead of the trip, he said that it has had an impact as Indian government has taken note of several of the concerns of the American businesses and have taken steps to address them.
The US exports to India, he said, is up by 12 percent this year as compared to previous year.
Similarly US imports from India are up by five percent.
First Published: Sunday, October 6, 2013, 19:37