Commerce minister Suresh Prabhu says India and the U.S. can work together towards the reformation of the WTO, offers to make joint pitches for exports to Africa.

Days after U.S. president Donald Trump threatened to pull out of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) saying the international body doesn’t treat the U.S. fairly, India’s commerce minister Suresh Prabhu has said India and the U.S. can work together to reform the WTO. This comes after months of pitching and calling for reformation and change at the international body by Prabhu.

Moreover, in March, the U.S. had challenged India’s export promotion schemes at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), alleging that these schemes and subsidies benefit Indian exports by allowing them to sell cheaply while harming U.S. manufacturers.

In light of this, Prabhu’s move to try and garner support from the U.S. to implement reforms at the WTO seems like an attempt to capitalise on the White House’s dissatisfaction with the body.

“We know how important WTO is, but that doesn’t mean they can work the way they want. WTO needs reformation and change,” the minister said in his address at the second day of U.S. India Business Council’s (USIBC) 43rd annual meeting and India Ideas Summit in Mumbai on Thursday.

“We are willing to be a facilitator to make that happen,” he continued, adding that India’s good relationship with other nations will help the process.

Alluding to Trump’s favourite slogan “Make America Great Again”, Prabhu said that both nations must work towards making the India-U.S. partnership greater than before, adding that India’s growing economic prowess will not pose any threat to the world’s largest economy.

“India’s economic strength will not pose any challenge to the U.S.; India becoming economically strong will only mean the U.S. has a friend, a partner who is stronger than before,” he said adding that India’s rising economic position is in the interest of U.S. when it comes to growth on the global stage.

Prabhu also offered to lend a helping hand to the U.S. to boost its exports in the African region. “I just read that U.S. exports data has gone down due to various reasons… In Africa our exports are very small but we know Africa very well. We can leverage it together and make a joint pitch for export of U.S. and India products,” he suggested.

On the start-ups front too, Prabhu extended the hand of friendship saying while many countries have tried to replicate Silicon Valley, India doesn’t wish to compete against it, but work in collaboration with it. “There is no need to create a Silicon Valley, what we need is a virtual valley… The entire ecosystem of Silicon Valley need not be physically created somewhere,” he said, adding that digital marketplaces can facilitate sharing of information and knowledge to boost start-ups from both countries.

Prabhu also said India could set up a special economic zone only for U.S. companies where the comfort level for the companies will be very high.

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