India-US agree on joint defence industrial cooperation road map at ICET.

In order to strengthen the India-United States (US) technology and defence industrial partnership, the two countries have agreed to a new bilateral defence industrial cooperation road map to accelerate defence tech cooperation for joint development and production and launch a new innovation bridge to connect Indian and US defence start-ups, senior US administration officials have said.

The US administration has also pledged to work towards lifting existing export controls, including by working with the US Congress, to overcome barriers in executing the road map.

The two countries will also strengthen their innovation ecosystems in the field of artificial intelligence, establish a joint India-US quantum coordination mechanism, work together on determining standards and benchmarks on AI in technical bodies, set up a taskforce on semiconductor manufacturing collaboration, strengthen cooperation in the realm of space, embark on new public-private dialogue on advanced telecom technologies, and enhance academic collaboration.

These are among the expected outcomes of the first high-level dialogue of the initiative on critical and emerging technologies (ICET) between and the Indian and American national security advisers Ajit Doval and Jake Sullivan, respectively, in Washington DC.

According to a senior US administration official, four factors — the fact that the dialogue is a result of a high-level political understanding and is being led by the national security councils, the issues covered are broad, there is deep stakeholder engagement including with the business and academic communities, and it is based on a strategic alignment — make ICET “unique”. The mechanism isn’t meant to replace existing platforms of cooperation and dialogue but energise it further, the official clarified.

A second administration official said the US views it in its strategic interest to support India’s rise as a global power and participate in it. Officials acknowledged that the China challenge was a key dimension in shaping the mechanism and its outcomes. “China is clearly on our minds…it has proven time and again to be a challenge for India and the world…but what is important to remember is that this is larger than one dimension and much more about India’s rise.”

The first official also pointed out that the fact that US was imposing export restrictions on China, while lowering barriers on India, was a clear message in itself.

Acknowledging that there are regulatory issues on both ends to operationalise the agreements, administration officials said there had been candid discussions on it. Some barriers are statutory but given the bipartisan support for the relationship, the administration hopes that the US Congress will help in lifting it; others are more in the domain of rules and policies. But the expectation is that given there is a strategic vision and commitment to achieving the objectives, it can drive “regulatory shifts”.

“The only thing that is limiting the dialogue is imagination. There is nothing that it doesn’t touch,” said one of the officials.

Source- Hindustan Times.

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