January 13, 2021
Senior Vice President, International Strategy and Global Initiatives and South Asia, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
President, U.S.-Africa Business Center, Sr. Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Former Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
India and Africa are relatively untapped trade markets for American businesses, which means there are vast opportunities for more strategic partnerships with the United States. India is a rising economic power, especially as the second-most populous nation in the world, and Africa is seen as the future of the world’s economy with ample opportunities for trade. Here’s how the U.S. can partner with these countries.
India-U.S. Trade Growth Begins With Economic Partnerships
India’s potential to become a strong trade partner for the U.S. has grown in sectors such as renewable energy and the digital economy. From the Obama administration to the current one, trade and investments between the U.S. and India have increased from 100 billion to around 150 billion.
However, to bring an extension of trade talks to the table, “the U.S. and India are going to need to really work hard to harmonize their approaches,” noted Nisha Biswal, president of the U.S.-India Business Council at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Biswal examined a few ways the new Biden administration could work with India to become a stronger strategic partner. This includes possibly utilizing India as a manufacturing partner during the current pandemic’s vaccine deployment efforts. Additionally, there’s room for growth in the tech sector, especially in advanced technology and the architecture of the digital economy, as well as creating a sustainable supply chain ecosystem.
“As we think about supply chains, as we think about the fact that many companies are looking to diversify and de-risk, the Indians are going to need to really step up and see how they can play a more critical role,” explained Biswal.
Africa’s Potential for Robust Trade Lies in Education and Leadership
Similar to India, Africa’s capabilities to support robust international trade are often overlooked. Scott Eisner, president of the U.S.-Africa Business Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, stressed the United States needs to look to the region for engaging their business community and African leaders, as well as supporting government outreach.
“You can’t have a strong democracy without a strong business community,” Eisner said. “That’s a world where the Chamber plays strong and hard on the continent and also puts our allies and our competitors on notice that our businesses are there for the long haul.”
Eisner stated that education is key to unlocking the capabilities of Africa’s potential not only in trade but in the operating process.
“Many companies have an outdated view of [Africa’s] commercial activities and opportunities,” he said. “I think there's great opportunities for supply chain diversification across [Africa’s] markets like Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria.”
Eisner emphasized this will only come through a cohesive, whole-of-government approach he hopes will be brought upon by the new administration – “something that truly hasn't happened over the decades of engagement around Africa policy,” he said. “[It’s landed] somewhere between democracy and encouraging commercial engagement … but we need those to fold into each other.”