Washington D.C.: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's State visit to the US next week is going to be an opportunity to work on trade ties between the US and India, US Representative Ami Bera said on Thursday (local time).

At the invitation of US President Joe Biden, PM Narendra Modi will be on a state visit to the US from June 21 to June 24. During his visit, he will address the joint meeting of the US Congress for the second time. Biden and US First Lady Jill Biden will host PM Modi for a state dinner at the White House on June 22.

Ami Bera, while speaking to ANI, said, "I think it's an important visit at this moment in time. You're seeing the US-India relationship grow, obviously, there are geopolitical challenges within Asia and so forth, and then India is also a rising economic power. So I think there's an opportunity to work on the US-India trade relationship. We're talking a lot about supply chains and coming out of the pandemic. I think there's a real opportunity for the two countries to grow together."

In response to a question regarding the defence partnership between the two nations, US Congressman said that there should be tangible things coming out of PM Modi's visit to the US, and that discussion on the same is very likely during PM Modi's visit.

"Certainly there should be some tangible things that come out of this visit. I think the defence space will be one of them. Is it the coproduction of helicopters? Is it more maritime partnership? Those are all things that we have been doing for a long time," Ami Bera said.

"But, I think there's a real opportunity to accelerate some of those partnerships. And I think you'll be hearing some big things coming out of this. And then maybe there are some things on the supply chain front. Again, I think India, as we think about redundancy and supply chains, obviously, the pandemic exposed an over-reliance on China. I think India would be smart to present itself as an opportunity for US investment," he added.

Ami Bera stressed that there has always been strong bipartisan support for the ties between the two nations. Notably, the invitation letter to PM Modi to address Capitol Hill on June 22 has bipartisan support.

"There's always been strong bipartisan support for the US-India relationship. I was a former co-chair of the Caucus on India and Indian Americans. That's always been one of the largest caucuses in Congress. So, again, I think there's a recognition we're the world's oldest democracy, India is the world's largest democracy, and we should work together on those shared values of democratic principles, on free markets, on opportunity," he said.

He also spoke about China's aggression in the maritime space in the South China Sea. He emphasised that China's aggressiveness in the South China Sea is forcing democracies to come together and look at shared values.

On being asked whether China is one of the reasons behind bipartisan support for India, Ami Bera said, "Certainly, China has changed the calculus in Asia. It hasn't been in the United States of changing it, but China, with its aggressiveness in the maritime space in the South China Sea and India's northern line of control, is really forcing democracies, and free-market countries to come together and look at those shared values. Because I think we want to have a 21st century that's dictated not by force, but by rule of law, by competition and that's all a good thing."

During his visit to India earlier this month, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin while addressing a press conference said that the world is witnessing bullying and coercion from China which was seeking to "redraw borders by force" and also threaten the national sovereignty of countries.

US Congressman called India a rising economic power and the Indian Ocean region incredibly important geopolitically. He said that this is the time that India can take its rightful place at the table. Highlighting the role of Indian Americans in the political system and how the situation has changed in the past years in the US, he said that there are currently five house members and Vice President is also of Indian origin.

"Well, So when first got elected to Congress in 2012, I was the only Indian American member of Congress. Well, fast forward to where we are today, there are five house members and the Vice President of the United States is of Indian origin. So, I think you're seeing the political clout within the diaspora, and we're seeing many more younger folks running for office so that certainly helps," he said.

"But I also think, again, India is this rising economic power. It's now the most populous country in the world. Geopolitically, the Indian Ocean region is incredibly important, as is the Indo-Pacific. So, I think this is a moment in time when India can take its rightful place at the table. Now, that's not normally where India historically has been not aligned, but I think going into the future, India will be aligned hopefully with the West," he added.