It begins with a phone call: India-US ties enter the Biden era


President-elect Joe Biden has begun following up on the many congratulatory messages from world leaders. On Tuesday night he called Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after which the latter tweeted that they had discussed shared priorities and concerns, namely the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. The readout from the Biden side further mentions “launching the global economic recovery” as well as “strengthening democracy at home and abroad”.

This conversation comes in the context of speculation that the Modi administration had put too many eggs in the Trump basket, which would hurt India given the Biden win, especially as the latter would not give India a free pass on Kashmir, CAA etc. These fears are overblown. Geopolitical winds ensure continuity in the India-US relationship. The signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) in October for example speaks to a defence interoperability between the two sides that is here to stay.

Read also: PM speaks to US President-elect Joe Biden, congratulates him for his win

A less transactional US presidency could also see progress for India on the trade front. The China-dominated Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) indeed provides further impetus for an India-US trade agreement.

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