India not treating US “very well” on trade front: President Trump
Washington, Feb 19: US President Donald Trump has complained that India has not treated his country “very well” on the trade front and indicated that a “very big” bilateral deal with New Delhi may not be signed before the American presidential election in November.
“Well, we can have a trade deal with India, but I’m really saving the big deal for later on,” Trump, who is scheduled to visit India on February 24 and 25, told on Tuesday when asked whether he expects a trade deal with India before his trip.
“We’re not treated very well by India,” the US president complained.
Trump, forcefully pursuing his ‘America first” policy, has previously described India as a “tariff king” for imposing “tremendously high” tariffs on American products.
“We’re doing a very big trade deal with India. We’ll have it. I don’t know if it’ll be done before the election (in November), but we’ll have a very big deal with India,” he said during an interaction with reporters at the Joint Base Andrews outside Washington.
The US and India could sign a “trade package” during Trump’s maiden visit, according to media reports.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the point-person for trade negotiations with India, may not accompany Trump to India, sources said. However, officials have not ruled it out altogether.
Multiple rounds of talks have taken place between Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Lighthizer in the past few weeks over telephone.
India is demanding exemption from high duties imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminium products, resumption of export benefits to certain domestic products under their Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), greater market access for its products from sectors including agriculture, automobile, auto components and engineering.
On the other hand, the US wants greater market access for its farm and manufacturing products, dairy items and medical devices, and cut on import duties on some ICT products. The US has also raised concerns over high trade deficit with India which was USD 16.9 billion in 2018-19.
Though President Trump is not happy with the bilateral trade ties, he praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said he is looking forward to his visit to India.
“I happen to like Prime Minister Modi a lot,” Trump said.
“He (Modi) told me we’ll have seven million people between the airport and the event. And the stadium, I understand, is sort of semi under construction, but it’s going to be the largest stadium in the world. So it’s going to be very exciting… I hope you all enjoy it,” he told reporters.
Trump was referring to a scheduled joint public rally with Modi at the newly-built Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad, capital of Gujarat.