US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has arrived in India for a four-day visit to strengthen the economic and trade ties between the two countries. The visit is significant as it marks the first high-level engagement between the two countries after President Joe Biden assumed office in January this year.

With a focus on strengthening the bilateral trade relationship between the US and India, Secretary Raimondo will engage with senior government officials, business leaders, and industry experts in New Delhi and Mumbai. Her visit will include meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar, and other key officials.

During her visit to India, Secretary Raimondo will discuss the prospects of enhanced cooperation in several fields, including information and communication technology (ICT), healthcare, infrastructure, and clean energy. The issues of intellectual property rights, cybersecurity, and digital trade will also feature prominently in the discussions.

One of the key agendas of Secretary Raimondo’s visit is to promote the Indian government’s initiative of Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) and discuss opportunities for American companies to participate in India’s growth story. India has emerged as a key investment destination for American businesses, particularly in the areas of healthcare, technology, and renewable energy.

The US and India have a strong partnership in the areas of defense and security, and Secretary Raimondo’s visit will explore opportunities for collaboration in these areas as well. India is one of the largest importers of defense equipment, and the US is keen to maintain its position as a major supplier of defense technology to India.

In recent years, the trade relations between the two countries have been strained due to issues such as trade imbalances, tariff disputes, and market access barriers. However, Secretary Raimondo’s visit is expected to provide the impetus to address these issues and take the bilateral trade relationship to a new level.

One of the key issues that Secretary Raimondo is likely to raise with the Indian government is the proposed Digital Services Tax (DST) that India plans to impose on foreign digital companies. The DST has been a bone of contention between India and the US, with the latter arguing that the tax is discriminatory and violates the principles of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Another issue that is likely to feature prominently in the discussions is the ongoing negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries. The negotiations, which began in 2018, have been stalled since last year due to differences over market access and tariff reduction.

The visit of Secretary Raimondo comes at a time when the world is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely impacted the global economy. The pandemic has also highlighted the need for greater collaboration and cooperation between countries to tackle common challenges.

India has been hit hard by the pandemic, with a surge in cases and fatalities over the past few months. The US has been one of the key partners in India’s fight against the pandemic, providing assistance in terms of medical supplies and equipment.

In this context, Secretary Raimondo’s visit is significant as it highlights the US government’s commitment to support India’s efforts to combat the pandemic and strengthen the health infrastructure in the country.

In conclusion, Secretary Raimondo’s visit to India marks a significant milestone in the bilateral relationship between the two countries. The visit provides an opportunity for both countries to deepen their economic ties and explore new areas of partnership. With the world still reeling from the impact of the pandemic, the visit also underscores the importance of international cooperation in tackling common challenges.