New Delhi: The second Ministerial meeting of the India and US Strategic Energy Partnership will be held on Friday (17 July). India has invited the US companies and investors to engage and invest in India in new opportunities. India will see an investment of over US$118 billion in oil and gas exploration as well as in setting up natural gas infrastructure, including development of gas supply and distribution networks in the next five years as the country prepares to meet the needs of a fast-growing economy.

There have been a few collaborative efforts between Indian and American companies in this sector, but it is far below their potential. The resilience of the US-India Energy Partnership has characterized it as one of the most durable pillars on which India-US Strategic Partnership rests.

Even during these challenging times, India and the US have been working in close collaboration, be it in stabilizing global energy markets or in collaborative efforts to address COVID-19. In today’s turbulent world, one constant is –and always will be –the strength of this bilateral partnership.

The cooperation in natural gas sector has been identified as a priority area. There are several upcoming new opportunities in the field of LNG bunkering, LNG ISO container development, petrochemicals, bio-fuels, and Compressed Bio Gas in the Indian energy sector. And the far-reaching changes and policy reforms underway in the exploration and production sector in India.

The intensity in the relationship between the two countries can be understood by the fact that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted to wish the United States a happy Fourth of July recently, US President Donald Trump said in a tweet, thank you my friend, America loves India. India is really a rare country that has handled transitions quite well in the United States and it has a genuine bipartisan goodwill in DC.

During an interview at the India Global Week session on ‘‘Partners in Revival – India’s role in shaping a better New World’’, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar said that the last four American Presidents - Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W Bush, and Bill Clinton - you can’t find four people in the world less similar to each other and yet the one thing on which actually, all four of them have agreed on is the importance of India and the need to strengthen that relationship.

‘‘And, what we have actually in the US, today is we have a very strong political relationship, strategic relationship, very strong security defence cooperation, and increasing economic relationship, a very unique technology relationship. Multiple decades really we have had good relation, but certainly, the last two decades that's become stronger. I expect it’s a relationship which will become more important even in the American calculus of the world,’’ he said.

US has also appreciated India’s initiative in strengthening the bilateral relationship, particularly during the challenging times of the Covid19 pandemic, which is also an opportunity to bring the two nations closer through collaboration in the area of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and associated supply chains.

India has reiterated the extraordinary momentum developed in the India-US bilateral ties, driven by strong shared interests in promoting global stability, security and economic prosperity. Importance must be given to small businesses in the economies of both the countries and there’s a need to increase employment and skilling in the sector.

It can be hoped that the extraordinary cooperation between the two countries during the Covid19 pandemic would continue in areas of building infrastructure, increasing bilateral investments, and generating jobs. There seems to a need for a Free Trade Agreement as a natural progression and outcome of the deepening commercial engagement between the two countries. US government must recognize the contribution of India’s human capital to the US economy, and the need for unhindered cross-border mobility of such talent.

Sustainable Growth Pillar is an important pillar of India–US Strategic Energy Partnership which entails energy data management, energy modelling and collaboration on low carbon technologies as three key activities. Exploring the vast untapped potential of the India-US commercial relationship, and the potential risk of inward-looking policies in a post-Covid world will surely cement the extraordinary India-US bilateral relationship that has grown from strength to strength on trade, investment, and connectivity.