US has welcomed India’s interest in joining Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation (APEC) and said it would hold talks with New Delhi in this regard, soon.
During a Congressional hearing on Asia, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken told lawmakers, “We welcome India’s interest in joining APEC. I said this directly to my Indian counterparts talking to them about how they see membership in APEC fitting into their own thinking, about their economy about trade and the evolution that they would make,”
“So I suspect we will have those conversations going forward,” Blinken said without indicating when and in what format these talks would be held.
He was responding to a question from Congressman Matt Salmon, Chairman of the Asia and Pacific Subcommittee on House Foreign Affairs Committee, who recently introduced a legislation for India’s membership to APEC, a forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
“I very much agree with the larger proposition that you cite about the importance of India and in particular the importance of trying to deepen and expand our own trade relationship with India and its own relations in the area,” Blinken said.
The top American diplomat quickly pointed out towards some of the obstacles in this regard including that adding new member is consensus-based within APEC.
“First of all other members do have to agree. It’s a consensus-based organization,” he said.
“The other thing I’ll tell you, and I think, you know, this is a consideration, as well. We want to make sure that as countries join organizations like APEC, they are going to work to productively, cooperatively, to uphold its rules and standards, and be productive partners in that enterprise,” Blinken said.
“So that’s one of the things that we’ll be talking to the Indians about. But the bottom line is we welcome their interest and we’ll be talking to them about it,” the American diplomat said.
Earlier this month, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told a New York audience that India wants to join APEC.
The Indian Government, he said, is ready to negotiate with an open mind and a great sense of confidence about its place in the global economy.
“You can’t claim to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world and not think of trade as a win-win option,” Jaitley said.
Jaitley’s comments were his strongest public endorsement of APEC membership for India to date, and a signal that the Indian government may seriously pursue membership in APEC as a step towards better integrating the country within the regional economy, New York-based Asia Society said.