Trump’s Foreign Policy

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In News: Donald Trump has issued a series of executive orders consistent with his inaugural speech in which he stressed upon “America First” and elimination of “radical Islamic terrorism”.

Executive Orders (EO)

  • The U.S President can issue rules, regulations, and instructions called executive orders.

  • They have the binding force of law upon federal agencies and they do not require approval of the United States Congress.

  • But the executive orders are subject to judicial review and interpretation.

Ratification of International Agreements by U.S

  • The executive signs the agreement.

  • This has to be ratified by the U.S Senate to come into force.

  • But the trade agreements, like the TPP, are approved using Trade Promotion Authority authorization, in which the US Congress is required to hold a yes/no vote on any agreements without modification.

Recent EOs on Foreign Policy

  • The US president has signed an executive order formally withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

  • He signed an EO to pose a three-month ban on immigrants from seven Muslim majority  countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

  • He also suspended the refugee programme for four-months to provide time to review how refugees are vetted i.e. examined before they are allowed in the U.S.

  • He is also preparing to issue EOs that will bring restrictions on H1-B and other visas.


  • TPP – To come into force, the TPP needed to be ratified by at least six signatories that accounts for 85% of the total GDP of the bloc.

  • US is the largest economy in this bloc. Unless it ratifies the TPP cannot come into force.

  • This withdrawal greatly reduces the possibility of a US-led regional order in the Asia Pacific which was the central theme of the US’ Pivot to Asia Policy.

  • Visa Ban – In theory, the policy is meant to ban terrorists until better vetting methods are formulated.

  • But this move sends back people to a war zone or places that they fled due to political persecution.

  • The ban on refugees is against the principle of freedom, at time where the refugee population around the world is highest since WWII.

  • However, in 1965, Congress curtailed presidential power by stating that no one could be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth.

  • A US District Judge in New York issued an emergency order staying deportations of people who have arrived in America with valid visas from the seven Muslim-majority nations but were detained on entry due to the ban. 

  • H1B restrictions – Indians hold the majority of H1B visas and L-1 visas.

  • Original intent of H1B visas was to hire additional talent to support US not to hire cheap labor that replaces American workforce.

  • But the Indians also contribute USD 1 billion annually to the US.

  • Indian IT industry contributes to about 4 lakh direct and indirect jobs in the US and additional USD 5 billion in taxes annually.

  • The move also increases inspector raj and ends employment authorization cards to spouses on such work visas.

  • His domestic actions regarding the reduction of environment clearance rules reflect his non serious attitude towards climate change.

Indo-Us Common Grounds

  • Security – Both the administrations would be interested in the defeat of Radical Islamic Terrorism.

  • Defense – India is designated a major defense partner by the Obama administration.

  • India’s requests for high technology are now considered with a ‘presumption of approval’ as opposed to ‘presumption of denial’.

  • The Trump administration is also looking favorably at India’s request for Avenger armed drones.

Indo-Us Areas of Contentions

  • NGO – The continuing crackdown on U.S.-based Christian charities operating in India can create a rift as the evangelical groups have far higher influence in the current White House than in the previous one.

  • Jobs – Both the governments have promised job creation. Therefore they could be competing in this area because the last decade witnessed a movement of U.S. jobs to India, and of Indian workers to the U.S.

  • H-1B Visa – The business model of Indian IT  is to locate a crucial part of their workforce in the U.S. who support the operation of jobs carried out in India.

  • But in recent years, these companies have increasingly hired Americans in their local workforce. So a crackdown on H-1B visas will not affect the business model

  • But the changes in laws that will not allow these companies to relocate the jobs at all will not be welcomed by India.

Way ahead

  • Though it has been signaled by the new administration that India would be a friend, it is not of top priority right now.

  • Therefore India must do more to catch the attention of the new administration.

  • Not much is needed to be done in areas like cyber security, intelligence sharing, space, disease control, maritime surveillance, agriculture, education and climate change.

  • They should be allowed to continue in the already existing pace.

  • The new administration might want India to openly partner with US in tackling China.

  • Recently US reiterated a long pending demand to sign the COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) that would enhance joint surveillance of Chinese vessels.

  • India’s consistent demand that the U.S. bring more pressure on Pakistan to take action against terrorist groups could be met with another demand for Indian troops in Afghanistan.

  • They may be less understanding about India’s domestic sentiment.

  • Therefore these areas to be treaded cautiously.

Note: For details on TPP and H1B visa please refer our earlier issues

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