US-India defence trade has extraordinary growth potential : Boeing official

Washington:India offers growth and productivity opportunities for the global aerospace industry and there is extraordinary potential for the defence trade and partnerships to grow between India and the US, a top Boeing official has said.

Dennis D Swanson, Vice President, global marketing Boeing Defense, Space and Security said the bilateral defence cooperation had evolved considerably in the last few years, driven by the growing convergence of American and Indian defence interests.

He said at the international geo-strategic level, this convergence was occurring primarily because of the shifting balance of power in Asia.

“There is extraordinary growth potential in US-India defence trade and on the defence-industrial partnerships front. We welcome that as an industry body,” Swanson told PTI.

Swanson – who is co-leading a high-powered delegation of US India Business Council to the 17th Defense Executive Mission to DefExpo 2020 along with David Sutton, director for the Indo-Pacific, Lockheed Martin International – said the opportunity was also as clear as the growth trajectory that has taken US-Indian defence trade from a mere USD 200 million in 2000 to over USD 18 billion in 2019.

“In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership holds promise for greater US-Indian military and industrial cooperation. We welcome his commitment to ‘Make in India’, and offer our strong support through joint partnerships and investments to make it a success,” he said.

Swanson said that as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India offers growth and productivity opportunities for the aerospace industry.

He said all the US companies that are part of this USIBC mission to India recognised that aerospace was a global industry and that they must continue to tap into the talent, innovation and technology in the US, India, and around the world to deliver high performance and affordability their customers expect.

“The investments made by US companies in India in defence partnerships or investing in the manufacturing, skill development and engineering footprint in India is critical to our industry’s long-term ability to sustain and grow jobs here in India and the US,” he said.

“We are encouraged by the growing defence relationship that has expanded under all US administrations and continues to grow under the Trump administration,” he added.

Swanson said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo along with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had reaffirmed the US recognition of India as a “Major Defense Partner” and a commitment to offer India defence technologies on par with America’s closest partners and allies.

In 2017, the Trump administration modified the Export Administration Regulations to facilitate defence trade with India and provided an unprecedented offer of Missile Technology Control Regime Category I Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to the Indian Navy, he said.

In 2018, further progress was made through the granting of India as a “Strategic Trade Authorization 1” country and by the joint signing of the Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), which was over a decade in the making, he added.

More recently, the Industrial Security Agreement (ISA) was signed during the 2+2 Dialogue which facilitates close technology transfer with the Indian private industry.

The ISA, along with other foundational agreements such Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), and joint exercises between the two militaries, furthers bilateral industrial and military cooperation and elevates India’s emergence as a stronger strategic partner, the top official said.

Swanson said over the last 10 years, there had been great positive energy and strong participation across the two governments.

“An expanded partnership between the United States and India allows us to create greater prosperity for both our nations and stand as mutually reinforcing engines of growth and innovation,” he said.

“We’ve seen the ease of doing business improve significantly under Prime Minister Modi’s government and we welcome that. You see a lot of US aerospace and defence companies investing in India and partnering with industry as a result,” he said.

India’s aerospace and defence market has tremendous growth potential and strong fundamentals to be globally competitive and develop into a leading hub and net exporter for design, manufacturing, engineering, technology development and services, he said.

According to Swanson, Indian companies both in the public and private sectors are adopting global standards when it relates to quality, efficiency and cost competitive benchmarks required for the aerospace and defence industry.

“They are also making the investments required for this industry and partnering with the right partners to build scale and capacity and develop talent to export defence products and services globally. As a result, they are becoming an integral part of the global aerospace supply chain,” he said.

The maritime security in the context of the military-to-military relationship had significant potential now and in the future. It offers the surest foothold to advance the broader security agenda and realise the value of being Major Defense Partner in the near-term, he added.

The Malabar military exercises and the revival of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad) are a natural fit for collaboration, he noted.

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