NEW DELHI: Government on Tuesday welcomed the US decision to move India into Tier-1 of the Department of Commerce's Strategic Trade Authorization license exception.
This exception from the export control regime will allow the US to export sensitive technology to India without individual licenses, a privilege reserved only for the 36 states, mostly NATO members or major allies like Japan and South Korea.
The announcement was made during a talk by US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Monday in Washington DC on the importance of Indo-Pacific region. "India's status as a Majense Partner led to its becoming a Strategic Trade Authorization (STA) Tier 1 country, comparable to our NATO allies, under the Department of Commerce's Export Administration Regulations," he said.
Describing it as "a very important change" in India's status, Ross said this "reflects India's membership in three of the four multilateral export control regimes, as well the development of its national export control system. US companies will be able to more efficiently export a much wider range of products to Indian high technology and military customers. India's new status will benefit US manufacturers while continuing to protect our national security."
The US had been steadily ramping up its military and economic presence in the Indo-Pacific region, mainly aimed at checking China's aggressive posturing in the South China Sea and beyond.
According to a Commerce Department release, "The plans announced today represent a substantial dedication of the Department's resources to the region and a prioritization by the Department of Commerce to direct US trade and investment to Asia."
The exception comes days after reports that India was planning to buy an advanced air defence system from the US to defend the National Capital Region (NCR) and eventually other major cities from aerial attacks.
It also follows reports that India, Vietnam and Indonesia might get a waiver from the punitive US sanctions against those doing business with Russia's defence industry under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA. This would allow India to purchase the advanced longer range S400 Triumf anti-missile system from Russia.
New Delhi has maintained that it would go ahead with the S400 purchase even if the sanctions were not waived. The Ministry of External Affairs, India, endorsed the commerce department's decision as a logical reason for India being a major defence partner of the US. And a reaffirmation of India's record as a responsible member of the multilateral export control regimes. The ministry on Tuesday further said it will further facilitate India-US trade and technology collaboration in defence and high technology areas.
We look forward to the US side operationalizing the decision at an early date." Possible box: India is a member of three of the four major export control regimes. The Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies.
The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), for the control of nuclear related technology (Held up because of repeated Chinese vetoes at the UN Security Council). The Australia Group (AG) for control of chemical and biological technology that could be weaponized. The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) for the control of rockets and other aerial vehicles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction