BECA Combined with Other Pacts Will Enable Deeper Defence Ties Between India and US: USIBC

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The US-India Business Council (USIBC) has welcomed the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) between the two countries, saying the pact combined with other enabling provisions will provide greater impetus for acquisitions of American military platforms by India. India and the US inked the BECA that provides for sharing of high-end military technology, classified satellite data and critical information, during the third edition of their 2+2 ministerial dialogue.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held the talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper, with a major focus on dealing with China's aggressive military behaviour in various parts of the world. "The US-India Business Council congratulates the US and Indian governments on the third annual 2+2 ministerial dialogue," the USIBC, which is part of the US Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.

It said these high-level discussions have played a pivotal role in advancing the bilateral strategic partnership and reflect the growing importance of US-India security cooperation and coordination on strategic priorities including efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. "We particularly welcome the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement, the final in a series of enabling defense agreements signed between our countries since India became a 'Major US Defense Partner' in 2016," the USIBC said.

"geospatial data sharing, BECA enhances interoperability between the US and Indian military forces and enables greater sharing of intelligence and analysis," it added. According to military officials, the agreement will give India access to classified spatial data as well as critical information having significant military applications from the US.

"Combined with the other enabling agreements such as COMCASA, this will provide greater impetus for future acquisitions of U.S. platforms further strengthening US-India defence ties and contributing to a free and open Indo-Pacific region," the USIBC said. In a major move in 2016, the US had designated India a "Major Defence Partner" intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.

The two countries inked the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries to use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies as well as provide for deeper cooperation. India and the US signed another pact called COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 that provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for the sale of high-end technology from the US to India.

"The Council welcomes the upcoming establishment of a permanent US International Development Finance Cooperation presence in India, as well as the commitment to continued dialogue through convenings this year of the Coalition for Disaster Resistant Infrastructure, the Military Cooperation Group and the inaugural Industrial Security Annex Summit," the USIBC said. It said these discussions come alongside enduring cooperation across broad a range of sectors, including defence, energy, ICT and healthcare.