On July 9 afternoon, President Joe Biden announced his appointment of Los Angeles, California mayor Eric Garcetti as the next U.S. Ambassador to India.
If confirmed by the Senate, as expected, Garcetti – who served as co-chair of Biden’s presidential campaign – will need to manage a thorny business relationship between the two countries and quickly get up to speed on defense matters, Rick Rossow, Senior Advisor and holder of the Wadhwani Chair in American-Indian Political Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said India-West.
“It’s hard to imagine anyone breaking the deadlock on trade issues,” Rossow said, noting that Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi both have protectionist leanings amid huge trade deficits with the world.
The ongoing trade war between the two countries bottomed out in 2018, when India imposed tariffs on 28 products in retaliation for the US government’s imposition of high tariffs on the country. aluminum and steel from India. Earlier that year, the United States ended its Generalized System of Preferences for India, a program that allowed duty-free exports of certain products.
Former President Donald Trump called India the “king of tariffs,” saying, “When we send a motorbike to India, it’s 100% tariff. When India sends us a motorbike, we don’t brilliantly charge them anything. “
On defense, Rossow noted: “Mayor Garcetti will have a particularly steep learning curve to cover our defense relationship with India.” He referred to military exercises, finding a comfortable ‘strategic path’, pending defense sales, and the evolution of Quad, an initiative of the United States, Japan, Australia and from India to deliver Covid vaccines to the developing world. Garcetti’s close ties to Biden could accelerate Quad’s strategy, Rossow predicted.
The veteran expert from India admitted that Garcetti currently has no relationship with India or with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Its take on controversial issues, such as India’s treatment of its minorities, or its position on Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood are unknown. However, the two-term mayor sits on the executive committee of Human Rights Watch, which has criticized the Modi government.
Indiaspora founder MR Rangaswami applauded Biden’s announcement. “It’s good for India to have an ambassador from the United States, who is an academic from Rhodes and who knows geopolitics well.”
Rangaswami noted that Garcetti successfully negotiated with world leaders to bring the 2028 Summer Olympics to Los Angeles. He also noted the recent appointment by the US State Department of US Indian diplomat Atul Keshap as charge d’affaires in New Delhi. “They will make a great team,” Rangaswami said, also adding that he was delighted to see a Californian appointed to the post, as the state already shares a strong relationship with India.
Biden had been considering Garcetti’s appointment to the post for at least two months. After the official announcement of the appointment, Garcetti, whose term as mayor ends in December 2022, said in a press release: âI have dedicated my life to service: as an activist, as a teacher, as a naval officer, as a civil servant, and if confirmed, then as an ambassador. Part of that commitment means that when your nation calls, you answer that call. “
âAnd if I’m confirmed, I will bring that same energy, commitment and love for this city to my new role and make partnerships and connections that will help Los Angeles,â he said.
IMPACT Executive Director Neil Makhija issued a statement welcoming Garcetti’s appointment. âThe post of Ambassador to India is a critical post in strengthening ties between the world’s largest and oldest democracy, and President Biden has made an excellent choice in Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “
“Mayor Garcetti’s credentials and national stature make him an excellent choice for the post of Ambassador to India, a post essential to key US priorities such as the global COVID-19 crisis, climate change and immigration,” Makhija said, noting Garcetti’s leadership in getting Los Angeles residents vaccinated and tackling the realities of climate change.
Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, also released a statement on the nomination. âPresident Biden’s appointment of Mayor Garcetti as the next Ambassador to India is an important milestone in the US-Indian partnership as our nations work together to end the pandemic, increase economic cooperation and ensure regional security. “
“The experience of Mayor Garcetti at the head of Los Angeles while defending international cooperation between the main cities of the world will undoubtedly be very useful to him as it contributes to strengthening the relations between the largest democracy in the world and the oldest “, did he declare.
Garcetti has served as mayor of the city of Los Angeles since 2013, after 12 years as a member of city council, including six as chairman of the council. He currently chairs LA Metro, the country’s second largest transit agency.
Garcetti co-founded Climate Mayors and led more than 400 American mayors to adopt the Paris climate agreement. He is the current President of C40 Cities, a network of 97 of the world’s largest cities taking bold climate action, and has led the organization’s engagement and expansion in India as well as C40’s global response to COVID Pandemic Through Sharing Best Practices and Resources.
For 12 years as an Intelligence Officer in the Reserve Component of the US Navy, Garcetti served under the Commander of the US Pacific Fleet and the Defense Intelligence Agency, retiring in 2017 as a Lieutenant .