Trump-led US can be an opportunity for us: Jaishankar
February 14, 2017  12:44
Here's an upshot of what Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said at 'The Gateway of India Geoeconomic Dialogue' co-hosted by the think tank Gateway House and the ministry of external affairs in Mumbai on Tuesday.

America: "Don't demonise Trump; analyse him". He represents a thought process, not just caprice.

Jaishankar' doesn't feel that the arrival of a Trump America means less opportunities for India. Maybe India has more opportunities, given that a Trump-led America might be un-shy and bring new possibilities/a relationship that a more "timid America" would not have created. Might be an opportunity for us.

Our issue is outsourcing. We have to put it to America that it is different. If we distinguish ourselves from the "basic problem that Trump is attacking", we can be successful. "India needs to separate that outsourcing helps the US be competent, from offshoring which damages a country's tax base.

"In general: Approaching moment of "multi-polarity" in the world. Having a scenario in international politics where everyone is playing everyone is a good opportunity for all. Including India.

Russia: "An improved US-Russia relationship is good for us". We have always had relationships with each of them of different kinds over the years. And if they have a better relationship with each other there will be no conflict.

China: "One relationship we need to work on most is the China account.
"Invest more in our China relationship. "I aspire something bigger for our relationship with China". It is natural that as we both grow there will be issues of all kinds. That comes with the turf. Not worrisome. We should "not duck" the issues. Instead we need to put them on the table and discuss them.

Trump and Asia: "Trump is not withdrawing from Asia. He is strengthening. But on new terms."Doesn't seem like that after Shinzo Abe's visit to the US and Jim Mattis's visit to South Korea. Trump does not seem to be in retreat mode. But just moving ahead on different terms. Doesn't mean lack of opportunity for us.

Japan: The Japan relationship is key. "A bigger Indian economy is in Japan's interest. Strategic geo-economics will work better with Japan than geopolitics."

Saarc: Not given up on Saarc but fundamental cooperation is important. Move where there is opportunity rather than get stuck on Saarc. If there are fundamental obstacles with creating regional cooperation, we should not worry.

"Can't get into a bus", then get another vehicle like bimstec. It is important to find the outcome rather than finding a mechanism for it.Pakistan: Till now our relationship with Pakistan is a "security centric" bilateral, with them turning the "terrorism tap off and on", then how will it go ahead?

"It will change to an economic one only if Pakistan" makes a break from their past practices". Internationally there is now plenty of concern that so many terrorism incidents get traced back to Pakistan. Trump's administration is so "focused on security".

And their first moves have been about security. So maybe they will acknowledge the source of this terrorism and that will help us.

In general: We should practise multilateralism not because you want to be a good guy. You might be a good guy too. But that's not the reason to be there. Multilateralism is not idealism alone. In a changed world scenario where "majors are pulling back" and hunkering', down there might be a new opportunity. We have to "look at it as a market". There is a new space and we can get in there.

EU: Strong interest in us concluding an agreement with the EU. But we need a better balance of priorities between us. Getting that right is what is all about.

Iran: Iran? "I can put an exclamation mark  would say Iran!' "Significant player". Things have changed a lot in the world. Working a lot with Iran. Middle East: Need to remember that the "remittances from Middle East are roughly equal to our IT exports to the US".

-- Vaihayasi Pande Daniel
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