In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Alyssa Ayres recapped the trajectory of U.S.-India economic ties over the past decade and a half, and proposed ways to take the relationship forward. She recommended that the United States elevate its support for India’s economic growth and its reform process to the highest bilateral priority, work more comprehensively to integrate India in global economic institutions, and prepare the next American generation for a more prominent India in world affairs by redressing the comparative lack of attention and underinvestment in the study of India in U.S. higher education.
To elevate support for India’s economic growth to the highest bilateral priority for the U.S. agenda with India, the United States should play a leadership role in helping India gain membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum; promote high-level discussion of bilateral sectoral agreements; complete a bilateral investment treaty; define a pathway to a free trade agreement or regional equivalent; create initiatives responsive to Indian domestic reform needs; and continue to emphasize defense trade.
The United States should work more comprehensively to integrate India in global economic institutions, including APEC, as well as other economic institutions in which India holds “key partner” status such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Energy Agency.
As a matter of American economic preparedness in a world in which India plays a more prominent role, the U.S. government should review federal funding incentives to encourage study abroad in India and study of Indian languages. This includes review of the ongoing Higher Education Act incentives, as well as the consideration of alternative initiatives and mechanisms. At present India/South Asia is funded below almost every other world region, and American students do not place a high priority on Indian language study or study abroad in India.