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Showing posts for "Alyssa Ayres"

India: Tough Talk and the Bali Trade Facilitation Agreement

by Alyssa Ayres
India's then-minister of commerce and industry, Anand Sharma (C), congratulates the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Roberto Azevedo (2nd R), after the closing ceremony of the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali on December 7, 2013 (Edgar Su/Courtesy: Reuters). India's then-minister of commerce and industry, Anand Sharma (C), congratulates the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Roberto Azevedo (2nd R), after the closing ceremony of the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali on December 7, 2013 (Edgar Su/Courtesy: Reuters).

Last week India’s top trade negotiators told the World Trade Organization (WTO) that India would not support the package of trade facilitation measures that had been agreed to last December at the Bali ministerial. Because adoption of these measures must be done by consensus among WTO members by July 31, India’s rejection of the agreement now stands to render moot the entire trade facilitation effort. New Delhi’s stance not only puts up a roadblock on global trade, but will effectively halt any efforts to envision a larger ambition for the U.S.-India economic relationship—which badly needs one—by signaling that India at present does not want to stand with the global free and open trading system. Read more »

Time to Fold SRAP into the SCA Bureau

by Alyssa Ayres
A pin is seen on a world map on the wall of the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood, where the Bergdahl family regularly attends, in Ketchum, Idaho on June 1, 2014 (Patrick Sweeney/Courtesy: Reuters). A pin is seen on a world map marking the border area of Afghanistan and Pakistan on June 1, 2014 (Patrick Sweeney/Courtesy: Reuters).

Secretary of State John Kerry formally announced today that the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP), Ambassador Jim Dobbins, would retire from the position at the end of this month. His deputy, Dan Feldman, will succeed him as special representative. This is as good a time as any, given the reduced role of the United States and the changing international presence in Afghanistan today, not to mention in the coming years, to fold the special representative role back into the regional bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA). Doing so will permit better policy coordination within the State Department and across the U.S. government on South and Central Asia in the years to come. Read more »

Getting Back on Track Economically with India

by Alyssa Ayres
A fisherman prepares to cast his fishing net in the waters of the Vembanad lake as a container ship is seen docked in the background at a port in Vallarpadam, in the southern Indian city of Kochi on February 11, 2014 (Sivaram V/Courtesy: Reuters). A fisherman prepares to cast his fishing net in the waters of the Vembanad lake as a container ship is seen docked in the background at a port in Vallarpadam in the southern Indian city of Kochi on February 11, 2014 (Sivaram V/Courtesy: Reuters).

India’s new government, led by business-oriented Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has emphasized the importance of restoring India’s economic growth to higher rates, along with restoring India’s place in the world as a great trading nation. It will be important for the United States to advance policies responsive to a more open Indian approach on trade and investment matters. I argue, in a new Policy Innovation Memorandum released today, that a good way to begin revitalizing the U.S.-India economic relationship, currently beset with animosities, will be for the United States to support India’s long-pending bid for membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC). Read more »

Bangladesh: Behemoth Garment Industry Weathers the Storm

by Alyssa Ayres
Employees work in a factory of Babylon Garments in Dhaka January 3, 2014 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters) Employees work in a factory of Babylon Garments in Dhaka on January 3, 2014 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters).

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to participate in an excellent conference focused on Bangladesh, its development, and its garment industry hosted by Harvard University. The organizers did a tremendous job convening the many diverse stakeholders on this issue—the Bangladeshi garment exporters associations, representatives from the Bangladeshi and U.S. governments, representatives from major buyers and retailers, fashion industry associations, labor rights advocates, the International Labor Organization (ILO), and scholars examining developments in global retail and labor. The background to the gathering, obviously, was last year’s tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka on April 24, 2013, which killed more than 1,100 and left more than 2,500 injured. Read more »

Prime Minister Modi to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon

by Alyssa Ayres
File photo: Prayer flags hang near the ParoTaktsang Palphug Buddhist monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest, in Paro district, Bhutan on October 16, 2011 (Adrees Latif/Courtesy: Reuters). File photo: Prayer flags hang near the ParoTaktsang Palphug Buddhist monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest, in Paro district, Bhutan on October 16, 2011 (Adrees Latif/Courtesy: Reuters).

Next week Prime Minister Narendra Modi will head to Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon, on his first overseas visit, slated for June 14-15. There had been a great deal of speculation that his first visit abroad would be to East Asia, particularly to Japan, a country with which he developed a strong relationship as Gujarat chief minister. But the selection of Bhutan builds perfectly on Prime Minister Modi’s inaugural outreach to the South Asian region, and demonstrates an astute sense of the region’s critical importance to India’s economic dynamism and strategic strength. Read more »

Five Questions for Professor Jagdish Bhagwati on the Indian Economy and Prime Minister Modi’s Next Steps

by Alyssa Ayres
Jagdish Bhagwati Jagdish Bhagwati, university professor at Columbia University, is also a senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations (photo provided by Professor Bhagwati).

This post is part of a series on the Indian elections.

Jagdish Bhagwati, university professor at Columbia University and senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, has been described as the most creative international trade theorist of his generation. He has been a leader in the fight for freer trade for decades. He is well-known in India as a champion of economic liberalization—and an early advocate for the reforms undertaken in 1991. With his coauthor Arvind Panagariya, he published Why Growth Matters last year, a book which makes the case for economic growth as the path to inclusive poverty alleviation. He is proudly Gujarati, and is likely to be an external adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Read more »

Five Slots to Watch in the New Indian Government

by Alyssa Ayres
Narendra Modi (L), the prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), receives a bouquet of flowers from BJP's Gujarat State President R.C. Faldu upon his arrival to meet party leaders and workers at Gandhinagar in the western Indian state of Gujarat on May 13, 2014 (Amit Dave/Courtesy: Reuters). Narendra Modi (L), the prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), receives a bouquet of flowers from the BJP's Gujarat state president, R.C. Faldu, upon his arrival to meet party leaders and workers at Gandhinagar in the western Indian state of Gujarat on May 13, 2014 (Amit Dave/Courtesy: Reuters).

This post is part of a series on the Indian elections.

India’s Election Commission will begin counting the nearly 550 million ballots cast across the country’s 930,000 polling stations at 8:00 a.m. Indian Standard Time. Results should be available by 5:00 p.m., or 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time in the United States. The exit polls released on May 12 have uniformly indicated a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government, either handsomely (News 24 Chanakya’s poll, predicting 340 seats for the National Democratic Alliance) or hovering just around the 272 halfway mark, making government formation a relatively straightforward process. Barring some surprise in the results—which of course has precedent with the 2004 election polls—Indian citizens will likely elect a stable BJP-led government with sufficient political space to make relying on a diverse array of parties with differing ideological views unnecessary. Read more »

The Foreign Policy Inbox of the Next Indian (a Modi?) Government

by Alyssa Ayres
File photo: Narendra Modi, prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Gujarat's chief minister, speaks during the "Vibrant Gujarat Summit" at Gandhinagar in the western Indian state of Gujarat on January 12, 2013 (Amit Dave/Courtesy: Reuters). File photo: Narendra Modi, prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Gujarat's chief minister, speaks during the "Vibrant Gujarat Summit" at Gandhinagar in the western Indian state of Gujarat on January 12, 2013 (Amit Dave/Courtesy: Reuters).

This post is part of a series on the Indian elections.

I had the opportunity yesterday to speak with three of India’s leading foreign policy experts on what the next Indian government’s foreign policy inbox would contain. Given that the latest opinion polls overwhelmingly favor the Bharatiya Janata Party, our panel focused on the likely policy priorities of a Narendra Modi-led government. Our half hour Google Hangout, now viewable on CFR’s YouTube channel, featured the Times of India’s senior diplomatic editor, Indrani Bagchi; Gateway House’s founder and executive director, Manjeet Kripalani; and the Delhi Policy Group’s director general, Dr. Radha Kumar. Each highlighted a series of priorities a Modi government would likely pursue. Read more »

Thanks, John Oliver! Why India Isn’t a Big Focus for U.S. Television

by Alyssa Ayres
Voters line up to cast their votes outside a polling station during the seventh phase of India's general election in Rangareddy district in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on April 30, 2014 (Danish Siddiqui/Courtesy: Reuters). Voters line up to cast their votes outside a polling station during the seventh phase of India's general election in Rangareddy district in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on April 30, 2014 (Danish Siddiqui/Courtesy: Reuters).

This post is part of a series on the Indian elections.

In the grand tradition of Jon Stewart, the British comedian John Oliver has skewered American television’s priorities in his new show, Last Week Tonight. His acerbic eight minute bit on the Indian elections—elections historic in scale, with an electorate of 815 million voters and big issues at stake—gets many things right, most importantly, U.S. television’s focus everywhere else. (And even, hilariously, the sad fact of a Fox News segment last week covering not, say, the April 17 fifth phase of India’s elections in which 195 million people went to vote, but instead a ludicrous feature about a leopard on the loose causing panic in India). Read more »