Potential to deepen ties is enormous, says US-India Business Council president Nisha Desai Biswal  

WashingtonWritten By: Sidhant SibalUpdated: Sep 23, 2021, 06:32 PM IST


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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting the US. In a conversation with our diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Nisha Desai Biswal, president, US-India Business Council, said there is enormous potential for further alignment and deepening bilateral ties. She had earlier served as assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian Affairs in US President Barack Obama's administration

As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the US, there is enormous potential for further alignment and deepening bilateral ties, Nisha Desai Biswal, president, US-India Business Council, has said. 

Biswal, who had served as assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian Affairs in President Barack Obama's administration, was speaking to diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. 


Here is the interview:  

WION: PM Modi will be engaging with the US president and the business community. How do you see this panning out?  

Nisha Desai Biswal: This is a very anticipated visit by both leaders, Indian PM Modi and US President Joe Biden. They have many engagements in the past. This meeting comes at a very important time as world is battling Covid. Collaboration of the US and India on Covid is crucial. We are looking to galvanise action on climate change. PM Modi has been a key leader globally in fight against climate change. And [there is] Quad leaders' meeting on margins of UNGA. The importance of Quad is really high in framing opportunities for our four democracies -- India, the US, Australia and Japan -- to create ecosystem and opportunities to benefit Indo-Pacific region. It will be an important meeting and of course, from the US perspective, we hope there is focus on important role of private sector, need to deepen economic ties and trade ties. It will be an opportunity to start those conversations as well.  


WION: There has been discussion on a mini US-India trade pact and private sector has been engaging on it. Do you think trade has the potential to expand? 

Nisha Desai Biswal: Absolutely, I feel both countries have struggled to align their trade policy but increasingly, we see that trade between our nations, and deepening the economic partnership between our nations is not only important for India but for economic growth of the US too. It is important for our strategic partnership, and strategic power that India has become. So, I think now is the time to focus on how we reach alignment between the US and India. Both are one of the biggest economies in the world, which are outside of some of the big trading blocks in the Indo-Pacific region. This will be important area of focus.  


WION: How do you see the evolution of this relationship in next few years?  

Nisha Desai Biswal: The US-India Business Council was set up over 45 years ago, because our leaders even at a time when we did not have deep ties understood that we need to have that. Economic relationship is going to be a key part of that. So, I have seen throughout my career how the US and India systematically converged their goals aspirations and aligned their approaches to the point we are today. We are the most consequential partners for each other. We have enormous convergence. We are not carbon copy of each other and our approaches are also different. We have a stake in ensuring the future of Indo-Pacific region and world. I see an enormous potential for further alignment and deepening of ties between our two countries.  


WION: Both countries are engaging on Indo-Pacific strongly. How can Indo-Pacific be a region where both countries can collaborate in terms of businesses, trade and connectivity? Is there a transparent way of connectivity that our leaders have been talking about?  

Nisha Desai Biswal: I think you are seeing it already. Quad grouping, a framework was initiated when I was in government when Obama was the president. But it has become more and more consequential for the countries. The Quad framework is really about how our democracies can collaborate across a broad spectrum of issues whether it is on combating climate change, collaboration on Covid, on really ushering in the new technology, which are going to comprise future economy. And frankly, how we can support not only our four countries but all of the countries of the region. You are going to see that more coming out of the meeting of the leaders this week whether it is on deepening ties on education, key advanced technology, semi-conductors, 5G, etc. You will see Quad grouping is an important one ushering in the future that Indo-Pacific countries want.  



WION: You are an Indian American. Indian Americans are a living bridge between two countries. Many are in present administration. How do you feel as an Indian American connecting between two countries?  

Nisha Desai Biswal: Well, I think it's a source of great pride and joy to see these two countries become deep partners that they were always meant to be. I was able to contribute in it as a source with enormous pride and hope to see it get even brighter in the years to come.  


WION: China is the dragon in the room. Do you think the Chinese economic crisis will have a wider impact?  

Nisha Desai Biswal: I will not speak on it. I think we have global economy crisis right now as we look at it, and the impact of the pandemic has been around the world. What we have seen while coming out of that is that one focus needs to be on diversifying supply chain, de-risking investment and also just fulfill the real need to examine global trade to make sure that we are able to support inclusive growth. Companies are also trying to regionalise, and there is enormous potential for the US and India.