In a transformative step to fructify the designation of New Delhi as its Major Defence Partner amid a changing strategic environment, the US has upgraded India’s status as a trading partner which will ease export controls for sale and supply of cutting-edge and sensitive technologies from America.
The US’ designation of India as a Strategic Trade Authorization-1 (STA-1) country brings the world’s fifth largest economy on a par with the United States’ closest allies and partners such as NATO and marks a qualitative upgrade of New Delhi in the strategic calculus of the Trump administration in Washington.
India is the only South Asian country to be on the coveted list, which includes 36 countries. Other Asian countries designated as STA-1 are Japan and South Korea.
“We have granted to India Strategic Trade Authorization status STA-1 that’s (a) very important status under our export control regime and acknowledges US-India security and economic relationship,” said US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum.
“US companies will be able to more efficiently export a much wider range of products to Indian high technology and military customers. India’s new status will benefit US manufacturers while continuing to protect its national security,” said Mr Ross. He added that this new designation reflects India’s membership in three of the four multilateral export control regimes, as well the development of its national export control system.
STA Tier 1 treatment will expand the scope of exports subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) that can be made to India sans individual licenses.
Cheers in India
India has promptly welcomed the grant of STA-1 status by the US.
“It is a logical culmination to India’s designation as a Major Defense Partner of the U.S. and a reaffirmation of India’s impeccable record as a responsible member of the concerned multilateral export control regimes,” said India’s external affairs ministry in a statement. “This step will further facilitate India-U.S. trade and technology collaboration in defence and high technology areas. We look forward to the US side operationalizing the decision at an early date,” said the ministry.
In 2016, the US had recognised India as a Major Defence Partner, which was reaffirmed by US President Donald Trump during PM Modi’s visit to Washington in June 2017. The STA-1 status signals the US’ strategic intent to ramp up defence and strategic partnership with India, with an eye on containing China’s alleged expansionist ambitions. China will be closely analysing ramifications of the US’ elevation of India’s trade status, specially as it comes at a time when the US and China are locked in a bitter trade war.