US-India Strategic Partnership Forum Joins Atlantic Council in Calling for a Re-Set of the Bilateral Trade Relationship

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) and the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center today called for India and the United States to redouble their efforts to pursue a path of constructive engagement that can lead, in the short term, to a first-ever bilateral trade agreement. The call to action is contained in a report released by the USISPF and the Atlantic Council today entitled, “Trade at a Crossroads: A Vision for the US-India Trade Relationship”, which analyzes the state of the trade relationship and provides recommendations to both governments on a way forward.

At stake is a $238 billion trade opportunity, according to USISPF projections predicting the current $142 billion bilateral trade can grow by an additional $95 billion over the next five years, provided the two governments can re-start the relationship and India can adopt new policies that enable growth in technology-driven exports and digital-based services.

The report, principally authored by Mark Linscott, former Assistant United States Trade Representative and Non-resident Senior Fellow, South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council, provides insights gained from Linscott’s birds-eye view as a former leader of U.S. and India trade negotiations from 2016 to December 2018, a time period which includes the most recent negotiations aimed at saving India’s GSP benefits. The talks ultimately collapsed and the U.S. withdrew the benefits on June 5, 2019.

The report highlights some of the successes of the U.S.-India trade relationship including, constructive collaboration as India implements the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and long-standing regulatory cooperation between the FCC, the U.S. telecommunications regulator and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which has resulted in TRAI’s adoption of a predictable public consultation process, among others.

According to Dr. Mukesh Aghi, USISPF CEO and President, “We are bullish on the economic opportunity U.S.-India bilateral trade offers both countries in terms of jobs and economic growth. The report cautions, however, that the trading partners are at a critical inflection point in re-setting the relationship, resolving lingering market access issues and working together in the longer-term to address structural problems. We are confident that a strategic partnership between government and industry can develop creative approaches so that all parties can benefit from this tremendous market opportunity.”

The report counsels that India and the United States redouble their efforts to go down a path of constructive engagement that can lead, in the short term, to a first-ever bilateral trade agreement. In parallel, the two can explore new areas for bilateral engagement, with the objectives of continually building new confidence, gradually aligning their visions for opportunities to open their markets to each other, and growing trade and investment at an accelerated pace. The report also provides practical recommendations, including a suggestion for India to explore creating a specific trade cadre of individuals who can provide expertise in developing trade policy and conducting trade negotiations. Mark Linscott, former Assistant United States Trade Representative and Non-resident Senior Fellow, South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council, noted, “Challenges are nothing new to the U.S.-India trade relationship, but the stakes have never been higher. This relationship deserves a serious commitment on both sides to solve a range of immediate issues and start to build potential for much more trade and investment in the future.”

About the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF):

The U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum is committed to creating the most powerful strategic partnership between the U.S. and India. Promoting bilateral trade is an important part of our work, but our mission reaches far beyond this. It is about business and government coming together in new ways to create meaningful opportunities that have the power to change the lives of citizens.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., USISPF has offices in New York, Silicon Valley, Mumbai, and New Delhi. To learn more about our work, please visit You can also follow us on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook.

About the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center:

The South Asia Center is the Atlantic Council’s focal point for work on greater South Asia. Through partnerships with key institutions in the region, the Atlantic Council facilitates dialogue among decision-makers in South Asia, the United States and Europe with the aim of securing democracy and prosperity in the region. These deliberations cover internal and external security, governance, trade, economic development, education, climate sustainability and resilience. The Center is committed to working with stakeholders from South Asia in addition to partners and experts in the United States and Europe, to offer comprehensive analyses and practicable recommendations for policymakers.

To learn more about the South Asia Center, click here. You can follow them on Twitter.


Nina Anand

Sukanya Sen