Here’s how India is now a major defence partner of US

Washington: The US today issued federal notification designating India as a Strategic Trade Authorization-1 (STA-1) country, paving the way for high-technology product sales to New Delhi.

With this, India has become the 37th country to join the list of STA-1 category, the only South Asian nation.

The notification relaxes America’s export control norms with regard to India, befitting India’s status as a ‘Major Defence Partner’.

The Bureau of Industry and Security issued the notification to amend Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to formally recognise and implement India’s membership in the Wassenaar Arrangement (Wassenaar or WA).

Further, the BIS removed India from Country Group A:6 and places it in Country Group A:5.

“This action befits India’s status as a Major Defence Partner and recognises” the country’s membership in three of the four export control regimes: Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), WA and Australia Group (AG), the federal notification said.

This rule is another in the series of rules that implement reforms to which the US and India mutually agreed to promote global non-proliferation, expand high technology cooperation and trade, and ultimately facilitate India’s full membership in the four multilateral export control regimes (Nuclear Suppliers Group, MTCR, WA, and AG).

This rule also makes conforming amendments, the federal notification said.

According to the notification, the US and India continue their commitment to work together to strengthen the global non-proliferation and export control framework and further transform bilateral export control cooperation to recognise the full potential of the global strategic partnership between the two countries.

This commitment has been realised in the two countries’ mutually agreed upon steps to expand cooperation in civil space, defence, and other high-technology sectors and the complementary steps of the US to realign India in US export control regulations, and support India’s membership in the four multilateral export control regimes (Nuclear Suppliers Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group), it said.

To date, with the effective support of the US, India has been admitted to three of the four multilateral export control regimes: Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) on June 27, 2016, the Wassenaar Arrangement (Wassenaar or WA) on December 7, 2017 and the Australia Group (AG) on January 19, 2018.

These memberships, important to the two countries’ global strategic partnership, are enhanced by the US’ recognition of India as a Major Defence Partner in the India-US Joint Statement of June 7, 2016.

“This recognition facilitates and supports India’s military modernisation efforts with the US as a reliable provider of advanced defence articles, the notification said,” the notification said.

As a result, the federal notification said, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), formally recognises under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) India’s membership in the WA multilateral export control regimes and revises the EAR accordingly.

Further, in this rule, BIS added India to Country Group A:1.

“In addition, to export control-related benefits for India as a result of prior amendments to the EAR in furtherance of the US-India global strategic partnership, BIS places India in Country Group A:5, which provides the benefit of greater availability of License Exception Strategic Trade Authorization (STA) for exports and reexports to, and transfers within India under the EAR,” it said.

Countries listed in Country Group A:5 are countries included in STA-1, which authorises exports, reexports and in-country transfers that are subject to multiple reasons for control.

“With this rule, India becomes the 37th country to join Country Group A:5,” the federal notification added.