Yellen visits India to strengthen US-Indo-Pacific partnerships

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NEW DELHI (TBEN) – Supply chains, the Russian war in Ukraine and the impact of COVID-19 were top priorities for US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen as she prepared to meet with Indian leaders in New Delhi on Friday.

For too long, countries around the world have been too dependent on high-risk countries or a single source for critical input, she told technology industry leaders during a visit to the Microsoft India Development Center on the outskirts of New Delhi.

Citing Russia’s leverage of energy supplies, Yellen said President Vladimir Putin’s strategy was “an example of how malicious actors can use their market positions to try to gain geopolitical influence or disrupt trade for their own gain.”

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She said that Russia had previously been a reliable energy partner for a long time. “But for most of this year, Putin has been arming Russia’s natural gas supply against the people of Europe,” she said.

Cooperation between friendly countries will help diversify supply chains outside of China, which currently dominates more than 80% of global solar panel production, Yellen said.

China’s strict “zero-COVID” policy has also impacted global supply chains with widespread lockdowns at major financial and manufacturing hubs.

Apple announced Sunday that customers will have to wait longer to get their latest iPhone models after antivirus restrictions were imposed on a contractor’s factory in central China.

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The United States is taking an approach called “friend-shoring” to diversify away from countries that pose geopolitical and security risks to the supply chain. “To do this, we are proactively deepening economic integration with trusted trading partners like India,” Yellen said.

“Technology companies like Amazon and Google are investing in India and Vietnam. Apple recently announced it was moving some of its iPhone production from China to India,” she said.

New supply chains are already developing in regions from Asia to the European Union, she added.

Yellen will meet with Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman later Friday.

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Yellen will discuss the US partnership with India to create an economic framework in the Indo-Pacific “to increase economic integration with trusted trading partners and reduce geopolitical risks,” according to the US Treasury Department. Also on the agenda are India’s G-20 presidency in 2023, climate change, the Russian war in Ukraine and the ongoing economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Later on Friday, she will also participate in the US-India economic and financial partnership dialogue and meet with executives from major Indian companies and US companies operating in India.

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