U.S. Pursues India as a Supply-Chain Alternative to China
Biden administration turns to New Delhi as it seeks to steer critical technologies away from Beijing
Biden administration turns to New Delhi as it seeks to steer critical technologies away from Beijing
WASHINGTON—The Biden administration is turning to India for help as the U.S. works to shift critical technology supply chains away from China and other countries that it says use that technology to destabilise global security.
Administration officials hosted meetings this week with a delegation of Indian officials and U.S. industry executives, seeking to facilitate technology development and investment in India as part of a broader U.S. push to cultivate alternatives to China.
Challenges arising from Beijing’s expanding global influence have had “a profound impact on the thinking in Delhi just as they have had on the profound impact on the thinking in other capitals,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday. “There is an element of that that forms a backdrop for the discussions here.”
The meetings come on the heels of an agreement with Japan and the Netherlands to start restricting exports of advanced chip-manufacturing equipment to China, joining efforts by the Biden administration to slow China’s military development by cutting access to advanced technologies.
U.S. officials hope those export restrictions create opportunities in India and elsewhere. While India isn’t among the world’s top producers of semiconductors, New Delhi has sought to assert itself as a greater semiconductor player. India is an appealing partner for industries looking to diversify their supply sources. With a population of 1.4 billion people, the country has a massive source of labor and costs are relatively low.
On Tuesday, the administration hosted a task force organised by the Semiconductor Industry Association, which is working in partnership with the Indian Electronics and Semiconductor Association, to develop a “readiness assessment,” aimed at trying to accelerate cooperation and investments. The meetings were attended by top American executives from a range of industries, including defense giant Lockheed Martin and semiconductor producer Micron, administration officials said.
India’s national security adviser, Ajit Doval, led New Delhi’s delegation this week in meetings with Mr. Sullivan and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and other officials.
The meetings underscore a broader U.S. effort to meet challenges from China through alliances with other countries. The Biden administration has given priority to Washington’s relationship with what is known as the Quad—an alliance between India, Australia, Japan and the U.S. that has focused on countering Beijing.
“President Biden really believes that no successful and enduring effort to address any of the major challenges in the world today…is going to be effective without a close U.S.-India partnership at its heart,” a senior administration official said.
However, a number of challenges in recent months have strained relations between Washington and New Delhi. India has maintained a neutral stance on the war in Ukraine and has continued to purchase discounted oil from Russia, rebuffing the Biden administration’s offer to replace Russian oil with U.S. supplies. Instead, India has increased its imports of Russian crude.
Biden administration officials said they understand the enormous domestic demand facing India and said that India continues to buy oil well below the price cap agreed to by allies late last year.
The key, U.S. officials said, is to offer India alternatives. The administration remains hopeful that it can ween India off purchasing Russian military equipment by offering incentives for it to diversify. Mr. Sullivan said generally, the U.S. is doing that through joint production and development. Top priorities in that effort include joint development of jet engines, artillery systems, armoured infantry, vehicles and maritime security.
General Electric has just submitted a proposal to the U.S. government for a jointly produced jet engine in the defence technology space.
“This is the kind of thing where we’re looking to make fast and ambitious progress,” Mr. Sullivan said.
India has also expressed frustration that two years into the Biden administration, there remains no U.S. ambassador. Earlier this month, the White House submitted to the Senate dozens of presidential selections who failed to win confirmation last year.
India is among a number of countries to also call for an overhaul to the U.S. H-1B visa, a nonimmigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Advocates have called for reforms to the program, including an increase in the annual cap, as well as for a more simplified process.
The State Department has made some progress on the issue, but employers expect delays in obtaining visas to continue in some places, including India. Visitor visas will likely also remain problematic.
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Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual
Many people are spending more than they think as inflation stays elevated
Many people have a gap between what they think they spend and what they actually spend. This gap has widened recently as the financial and psychological effects of higher prices further strain people’s budgets.
Elevated inflation has rippled through American’s wallets for more than a year now. Some have cut back, while others have increased their spending to keep up. Credit-card balances were staying relatively flat for a while, but have jumped higher recently.
In the fourth quarter of 2022, the average household’s credit-card balance was $9,990, up 9% from in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to WalletHub, a consumer-finance website. Meanwhile, the average credit-card interest rate rose to a record high of about 20% last week, according to Bankrate.
Financial advisers say the larger amount of credit-card debt while rates are higher is one indication that some Americans are spending more than they think they are. This type of spending can reduce people’s ability to pay for important items down the road, such as college for a child or even fund their own retirement. More immediately, it will put people in costlier debt.
“If people spend too much on credit, they could end up trapped in a cycle of debt,” said Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma.
Spending less isn’t always possible when everything from groceries to travel is generally more expensive. Still, people can find ways to cut back if they understand more about why they are overspending and take a closer look at their finances.
The power of compounding is a boon to investors, but not to shoppers.
Money grows much faster than most people expect because interest is earned on interest, said Michael Liersch, head of Wells Fargo & Co.’s advice and planning centre. A similar concept applies to inflation: Prices rise, and if inflation remains high, prices continue to grow on top of already-inflated prices, leaving people off guard.
“People get constantly surprised that their money isn’t going as far as they thought it would,” he said.
The cost of eating out and going for drinks continues to take Dina Lyon aback. Even though the 36-year-old married mother of one is dining out and ordering in far less than she did a year ago, some prices still give her sticker shock.
“The difference between cooking at home—about $10 for nice pasta and quick sauce from canned tomatoes—versus Italian takeout of $50 is astronomical,” said Ms. Lyon, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.
People tend to underestimate their future spending in large part because they base their predictions on typical expenses that come to mind easily, said Abigail Sussman, a professor of marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
She and other researchers found that when people are coming up with predictions, they tend to think about what they usually spend money on—such as groceries, rent and gas—and base their predictions primarily on these expenses. They are less likely to consider atypical expenses, such as car repairs or birthday presents, the researchers found.
This pattern is particularly problematic when inflation is high, said Prof. Sussman. When the price of the same basket of items rises, people might not account for these price increases in their future budgets, she said.
Further, times of stress cause people to be less intentional about tracking their money, said Mr. Liersch. They might also spend more than they know they can afford to soothe feelings including anxiety and depression.
According to a recent survey by Credit Karma, 39% of Americans identify as emotional spenders (defined by the study as someone who spends money to cope with emotional highs and lows.)
You have a better chance of staying under budget if you become more aware of your spending instead of sticking your head in the sand, financial advisers said.
One thing Adam Alter, a professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business, does is create a line item in his monthly budget for one-off expenses, such as an unexpected medical bill. This gives him a cushion in his budget and enables him to more fully examine how much he is spending each month, said Prof. Alter, who has studied overspending.
People might also wish to include an escalating buffer into their budgets of say, 2% to 5% a year, to account for inflation, he said.
Jay Zigmont, a financial planner in Water Valley, Miss., looks at clients’ total take-home income from the year, subtracts everything they must spend money on such as their mortgage and how much they saved. The remaining number is how much they spent on discretionary spending.
In most cases, clients are surprised they spent so much, he said.
Once people know how much they spend, Britta Koepf, a financial planner in Independence, Ohio, suggests they practice mindful spending. Before any purchase, ask yourself if you really want or need what you are buying. Frequently, the answer is yes, but sometimes waiting five seconds will prevent you from overspending, she said.
You can also practice mindfulness by delaying purchases further.
“A lot of the time, if I tell myself that I will purchase it next week, I find that I am no longer interested a week later,” she said.
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