LNG exports seen building stronger US-India trade relationship

Aggressive exports of LNG from the US could help set the stage for stronger trade relationships with Indian and other developing South Asia nations, experts agreed during a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“LNG exports could facilitate stronger bilateral relations with India, but an investment treaty will need to be signed and service agreements developed first,” said US Rep. Charles W. Boustany (R-La.), who chairs the Ways and Means Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee.

“We have a number of small energy equipment manufacturers in my district which would be happy to partner with India firms,” Boustany said, adding, “It’s a real opportunity for companies in both countries.”

Karl F. Indefurth, a senior CSIS advisor who occupies its Wadhwani Chair in US-India Policy Studies, said top officials from both countries have been discussing why expanded US LNG sales to India is a sensible strategy for both countries.

Excess US gas supplies and growing India demand is a match that makes economic and strategic sense, Indefurth said. It would generate more jobs and improve the US trade balance while boosting a major strategic partner’s energy security and eventually creating new trade opportunities, he said.

The US will need to move quickly, however, according to participants in the discussion. “We are not the only country with these resources,” said Sarah O. Ladislaw, co-director of CSIS’s Energy and National Security Program.

“Others are reevaluating their resources,” Ladislaw said, adding, “It’s a very strategically dynamic landscape, although not all producing countries are the same. It won’t necessarily lead to international confrontations. It could increase cooperation under the right circumstances.”

Boustany said, “Let’s expedite the permitting and move ahead. The benefits to our economy and balance of trade could be enormous. But we have to get our policies and priorities in place.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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