In just about three weeks from now the US will elect a new president, for a four-year term, which could stretch into a second.
Both the Democrats and Republicans have been engaged in a high-decibel, acrimonious debate for over a year now in what is turning out to be the most keenly watched contest in decades.
But who out of Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton will be better for India, especially when it comes to bilateral trade and business relations between the two countries?
We trawled through publicly available India-US trade figures since 1985 put up by the US Census Bureau, and data on mergers and acquisitions available with VCCEdge, the data analytics arm of News Corp VCCircle. Although international trade and business relations are more often a function of prevailing global economic conditions than of countries’ internal politics, an analysis of historical India-US trade data, taken in context of who has been in power in the US, show some interesting trends.
The period since 1985 has seen three Republican presidents—Ronald Reagan (second term), George Bush Sr. and George Bush Jr—and two Democrat ones—Bill Clinton and the incumbent Barack Obama. This translates into two, eight year alternating terms each for Republicans (1985-1993, 2001-2009) and Democrats (1993-2001, 2009-present).
Data shows that when the Republicans were in power between 1985 and 1993, the two countries saw a nearly 45% increase in their bilateral trade. The next time the Republicans returned to power in 2001 under Bush Jr., trade zoomed more than 200%, registering the best figures for the period under consideration.
The two Democrat presidential terms saw trade grow more than 150% during Bill Clinton and just over 50% under Obama. While the increase in trade volumes during the Clinton years is understandable, as he presided over the US at a time when India liberalised its economy, the relatively slower growth during Obama years is interesting, as this period saw the Indian rupee depreciate by more than 36% against the US dollar.
However, beyond the headline trade numbers, data show that the best period for Indian exports was under President Clinton, when India’s exports zoomed more than 180%, the largest increase during the last three decades.
In contrast, Bush Jr.’s years at the White House saw imports from the US go up by more than a staggering 380%.
Further perusal of publicly available numbers on Indian immigration to the US show that while in percentage terms the number of Indian immigrants to the US doubled from 1980 to 1990 (during most of this period, Reagan was president), the largest absolute increases have been during the Obama years.
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