Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi made a 5-day visit to the United States of America from 20th to 24th June 2023, at the invitation of President of USA Joseph Robinette Biden Jr (Joe Biden) and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.
- So far, PM Modi has visited the USA 6 times(2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 & 2021) in his capacity as the PM of India. However, the June 2023 visit marks his first ever ‘state visit’ to the USA, which, as per diplomatic protocol, is the highest-ranked visit.
- In the USA, PM Narendra Modi was received by Indian Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, and India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ruchira Kamboj.
- He lead the celebrations of the International Day of Yoga 2023 (on June 21, 2023) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, United States and held bilateral talks with President Joe Biden in Washington, USA.
-GE Aerospace signed MoU with India’s HAL to produce fighter jet engines
On June 23, 2023, during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, World’s leading aircraft engine maker, GE Aerospace signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Washington to produce fighter jet engines in the country for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
- The GE Aerospace’s F414 engines will be co-produced in India to power HAL’s Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) Mk2.
- The MoU includes the potential joint production of GE Aerospace’s F414 engines in India, and GE Aerospace continues to work with the US government to receive the necessary export authorisation for this.
i.The effort is part of the IAF’s LCA Mk2 program and the agreement will advance GE Aerospace’s earlier commitment to build 99 engines for IAF as part of the LCA Mk2 programme.
ii.The LCA Mk2 will form an important element of IAF’s future air combat capabilities, and its first flight could take place in 2024, setting the stage for its production and subsequent operational availability around 2028 to replace the Mirage 2000s and Jaguars.
- GE Aerospace’s F404 and F414 have been part of the development and production of LCA Mk1 and LCA Mk2 programmes.
iii.Along with the current agreement, the GE would also continue to collaborate with the Indian government on the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) Mk2 engine programme.
iv.Currently, HAL uses GE 404 engines for the 83 light combat aircraft it is manufacturing for the IAF.
- Note – Recently, the IAF bought 36 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault, a French manufacturer of combat aircraft.
-Cabinet Approved Micron’s semiconductor testing and packaging unit Plan
On 21st June 2023, PM Modi met with Sanjay Mehrotra, Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of Micron Technology Inc in Washington DC, USA and invited Micron to boost semiconductor manufacturing in India.
- Ahead of the PM’s visit to the USA, The Union Cabinet of India has approved U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology’s USD 2.75 billion plan to build a new semiconductor testing and packaging facility in Gujarat, India.
- Out of the total investment for the plant, Micron will invest up to USD 825 million over the 2 phases of the project, and the remaining will be funded by the government of India and the Gujarat government under the Modified Assembly, Testing, Marking and Packaging (ATMP) Scheme.
- Under the ATMP scheme, Micron will receive 50% fiscal support for the total project cost from the Indian central government and incentives representing 20% of the total project cost from the state of Gujarat
- Cabinet has agreed production-linked incentives worth Rs 11000 crore for the plant.
i.As per the approval the Assembly Testing Marking and Packaging unit, which does not involve chip manufacturing but focuses on testing and packaging semiconductor chips, will be constructed in the city of Sanand (Gujarat).
ii.Micron could procure and package chip for clients at the plant, or other companies could send their chips for testing before shipping. The plant is expected to create up to 5,000 new direct Micron jobs and 15,000 community jobs over the upcoming years.
iii.The company plans to set up an OSAT (outsourced semiconductor assembly and test)) plant in India which will test and package its product to make it ready for use.
iv.In the first phase, the government had cleared four OSAT projects which included proposals by Tata Group, Sahasra Semiconductors.
About Micron Technology:
- It is a world leader in innovative memory solutions that transform how the world uses information.
- The company has been instrumental to the world’s most significant technology advancements, delivering optimal memory and storage systems for a broad range of applications, including automotive, mobile, data centre, and client.
-Agreement signed between India and the US on cooperation in Space Research
During PM Modi’s visit to the USA, India and USA signed agreements – Artemis Accords and Joint Indo-US mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2024, on cooperation in Space Research, which will take the bilateral relations to a new height.
i.On 21st June 2023, India became the 27th nation to sign the Artemis Accords, demonstrating its commitment to sustainable and transparent space activity.
- Indian Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Sandhu, signed on behalf of the Government of the Republic of India.
- As per Artemis Accords, India can participate in the US led Artemis programme for exploration of moon and other celestial objects under common protocols.
ii.On the joint mission to the International Space Station, India-US will develop a framework for joint mission to the International Space Station in 2024.
iii.National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) are developing a strategic framework for human spaceflight cooperation in 2023.
NASA announced to provide advanced training to Indian astronauts at Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, with the goal of mounting a joint effort to the ISS in 2024.
About Artemis Accords:
The Artemis Accords was signed on October 13, 2020 by eight founder nations – Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates (UAE), United Kingdom (UK) and USA. The Artemis Accord is a non-binding agreement with no financial commitments.
- It is an American-led effort to return humans to the moon by 2025, with the ultimate goal of expanding space exploration to Mars and beyond.
- It aims at enhancing the governance of the civil exploration and use of outer space with intension of advancing the Artemis program.
-India And US Launches USD 2 Million Tech Grant for AI, Quantum Technologies
As per the joint statement issued by PM Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden, the United States and India announced a USD 2 million grant program for artificial intelligence and quantum technologies.
- The grant program is part of the U.S.-India Science and Technology Endowment fund and aims to foster collaboration between the two countries in emerging technologies.
- Public-private collaborations are encouraged under the programme to develop high-performance computing (HPC) facilities in India and pledged to lower barriers to US exports of HPC technology and source code.
India’s own National Quantum Mission was first announced in 2020 and intends to develop intermediate-scale quantum computers with 50 to 1,000 physical qubits by 2031.
- India’s list of objectives are magnetometers, atomic clocks, superconductors, novel semiconductor structures and quantum communications.
The Indian Department of Atomic Energy has made a USD 140 million in-kind contribution to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Laboratory for the collaborative development of the Proton Improvement Plan-II Accelerator.
-IFFCO signs agreement for export of Nano liquid urea to US
Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd (IFFCO) started exporting world’s 1st Nano liquid Urea invented & manufactured indigenously in India by IFFCO to USA through signing an agreement with California-based Kapoor Enterprises Inc.
- In June 2021, IFFCO launched the world’s first nano urea fertiliser, while nano DAP in April 2023.
-Resolution of six outstanding WTO disputes between US and India
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyal has highlighted the resolution of six outstanding World Trade Organisation (WTO) disputes between US and India through mutually agreed solutions as jointly communicated by the PM Narendra Modi and President of the USA H.E. Joseph Biden.
The six trade disputes that will be terminated:
- Three of them which have been filed by India against the USA namely, Countervailing Measures on Certain Hot-Rolled Carbon Steel Flat Products from India (DS436); Certain Measures Relating to the Renewable Energy Sector (DS510); and Certain Measures on Steel and Aluminum Products (DS547).
- The other three disputes, which have been filed by the USA against India are: Certain Measures Relating to Solar Cells and Solar Modules (DS456); Export Related Measures (DS541), and Additional Duties on Certain Products from the United States (DS585).
i.As a part of the agreement, the US has agreed to grant market access to steel and aluminium products under the exclusion process of Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act 1962. India has agreed to remove the additional duty, i.e., retaliatory tariffs on certain products.
- The prevailing basic import duty on those products applicable to all imports wouldcontinue.
ii.As part of the market access, the US Department of Commerce will clear 70% of steel and 80% of aluminium applications for products originating in India.
iii.The market access would restore opportunities for Indian steel and aluminium exporters, which were restricted since 14th June 2018 because of the US 232 measure under which additional duties of 25% and 10% were levied on steel and aluminium products respectively.
iv.These applications would be made under the exclusion process of Sec. 232 by the importers on behalf of the exporters.
v.It would provide significant impetus to raise India’s Steel and Aluminium exports by about 35%.
-India inducted into US-led Mineral Security Partnership
India has been inducted into the Mineral Security Partnership (MSP), a US-led collaboration of 14 countries that aims to catalyse public and private investment in critical mineral supply chains globally.
- India became the newest partner in the MSP, which would accelerate the development of diverse and sustainable critical energy minerals supply chains globally while agreeing to the principles of the MSP including environmental, social, and governance standards.
Purpose of MSP:
- The MSP could focus on the supply chains of minerals such as cobalt, nickel, lithium and also the 17 “rare earth” minerals.
- While cobalt, nickel and lithium are required for batteries used in electric vehicles, rare earth minerals are critical in trace amounts in semiconductors and high-end electronics manufacturing.
Rare earth Minerals:
i.It comprises 17 elements and are classified as light RE elements (LREE) and heavy RE elements (HREE).
- Some REs are available in India such as lanthanum, cerium, neodymium, praseodymium and samarium.
ii.Other rare earth minerals such as dysprosium, terbium, and europium that are classified as HREE are not available in Indian deposits in extractable quantities.
iii.Currently, there is an overwhelming dependence on countries such as China for HREE, which is one of the leading producers of RE with an estimated 70% of the global production.
- China is a strong player in the mineral space and has created processing infrastructure in rare earth minerals and has acquired mines in Africa for sourcing elements such as cobalt.
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