India’s self-reliance initiatives may lead to trade barriers with other nations, says outgoing US envoy

New Delhi’s self-reliance and “Make in India” initiatives have the potential to lead to higher tariffs and other trade barriers that could hit the country’s capacity to integrate into global value chains, outgoing US ambassador Kenneth Juster cautioned on Tuesday.

Juster pointed to “frictions and frustrations” on trade and investment between India and the US, and said the two sides were unable to finalise even a “small trade package” despite persistent efforts. There are also growing restrictions on market access for some US goods and services, increasing tariffs, new limitations on free flow of data and a “less-than-predictable regulatory environment for investors”, he said.

In a farewell address, he also spoke of the need for both countries to preserve their commitment to diversity and tolerance in order to maintain their status in the world and the strength of bilateral ties.

On the strategic front, Juster said the time has come for India and the US to develop guidelines and “even redlines” for a stronger Indo-Pacific architecture to tackle future challenges. Without naming China, he said this framework should enable all countries to prosper from a region that respects sovereignty and peaceful resolution of disputes.

Juster, a political appointee of the Trump administration who has overseen key aspects of India-US strategic relations over the years,

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