Ahead of his maiden visit to India, US President Donald Trump has said that high Indian tariffs have hit the US “very hard” but he would “talk business” when he meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi next week.President Trump and First Lady Melania are scheduled to visit India from February 24-25.
“I’m going to India next week and we’re talking trade. They’ve been hitting us very hard for many, many years,” Mr Trump said at a ‘Keep America Great’ rally in Colorado on February 20. He told thousands of his supporters at the rally that he “really likes” PM Modi and they would be talking business. “We’ve got to talk a little…We’ve got to talk a little business. It’s been hitting us hard. They give us tariffs, one the highest in the world is India,” he said.
Putting America First
Mr Trump, however, downplayed the expectation of a major trade agreement with India during his visit and said that both sides could make a “tremendous” deal, depending on how good it is for the US. “We’re going to India, and we may make a tremendous deal there,” he said. In the same breath, he added: “But we’re only making deals if they’re good deals because we’re putting America first. Whether people like it or not, we’re putting America first.”
Currently, the India-US trade in goods and services is estimated at three per cent of the US’ world trade. According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), a Congress think-tank, in 2018 the US was India’s second-largest export market after the European Union and third-largest import supplier after China and the EU. India is the US’ eighth-largest trading partner. The US is India’s single largest trading partner, with bilateral trade estimated to be over $160 billion.
Mr Trump reiterated his enthusiasm for a rousing public reception in India and raised the bar by saying he expects millions of Indians to welcome him in a roadshow in Ahmedabad. “I hear, they are going to have 10 million people. They say anywhere from six to 10 million people are going to be showing up along the route to one of the largest stadiums in the world, the largest cricket stadium in the world, which is brand new and beautiful.” Mr Trump indicated that his visit will result in more products “proudly stamped with the beautiful phrase Made in the USA”.
The US president and First Land are scheduled to travel to Ahmedabad, Agra, and New Delhi during their two-day visit, which will effectively last around 36 hours. Gujarat has selected a huge cricket stadium as the venue to host them. Officials said over 1,00,000 people would attend the event at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad. The grand welcome has been dubbed as “Namaste Trump’, resembling Mr Modi’s Houston rally last year, themed ‘Howdy, Modi!’ Mr Trump was the guest of honour at the rally that was attended by over 50,000 Indian-Americans.
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