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Noah Smith

The U.S. Needs to Make India a Bigger Trade Partner

Closer economic ties would boost the Asian country and transform it into a regional counterweight to China.  

They can go together.

They can go together.

Photographer: Pallava Bagla/Corbis News

Conflict between China and India has made it urgently necessary for the U.S. to deepen its economic integration with the latter country, through increased trade and investment. On June 15, 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed when the two countries clashed over a disputed border. In response, India banned a number of Chinese apps. As my Bloomberg Opinion colleague Mihir Sharma points out, these conflicts are likely to drive India closer to the U.S. in strategic terms.

But that budding alliance will be harder to cement without deeper economic ties. Not only does trade tend to cement alliances, but building up allied countries’ economies makes them much more able to resist military encroachments by rivals. The U.S. once understood this; the Marshall Plan famously helped stabilize Western Europe after World War II and prevent it from falling into the Soviet orbit, while opening U.S. markets to Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese products helped those countries industrialize.