Saving big big-ticket trade deal with India for later: Trump

Ahead of his two-day visit to India later this week, President Donald Trump indicated that the much expected trade deal with New Delhi will have to wait for a while, saying he will save it for another day. Speaking to reporters at the White House, Mr Trump said, “Well, we can have a trade deal with India, but I’m saving the big deal for later on.” In 2019, the Trump administration had expelled India from a scheme that gave some Indian exports free access to the US market.

The US president, however, seemed to confirm on February 18 when he told reporters that he wanted to do “a very big trade deal with India,” but not sure if that was possible before the election. “We’re not treated very well by India, but I happen to like Prime Minister Modi a lot,” Mr Trump said. However, both sides have been negotiating since to hammer out a deal that will see more American exports, such as agro-based and medical products, into India while the Asian nation would have its preferential status reestablished. People familiar with the subject said the outcomes of the negotiations are still hazy and unlikely to be on Mr Trump’s agenda when he visits India from February 24-25.

Also, a planned visit of US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to India last week was canceled as there was no breakthrough in the discussions. The US phrama and diary businesses have been lobbying for greater access to the Indian market, and they were instrumental in pushing the Trump administration to suspend the Generalized System of Preferences program with India last year when their demands were not met. As part of the negotiations, India has offered greater market access to US farm products such as alfalfa hay, pecans and dried distiller grains, as well as lowered duties on large engine Harley Davidson motorcycles. In return, it has sought a restoration of its GSP privileges. However, the talks got complicated after new tariffs were introduced recently by both sides. India announced higher tariffs on a range of products including medical devices in its February 1 budget. The Trump administration, on the other hand, extended tariffs on steel and aluminum products last month that annoyed the Indian officials.

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