‘If even a tiny Phase 1 deal is not done...’: US on trade pact during Trump visit
A trade deal was seen as the chief goal for the trip when the two sides began planning the presidential trip.Updated: Feb 14, 2020 13:38 IST
It will be a hitch if a trade deal, expected to be the highlight of US President Donald Trump’s visit to India in the last week of February, does not materialise, the senior American diplomat for South Asia Alice Wells has said.
“The two democracies continue to finalise an agreement. If a tiny Phase 1 trade deal cannot be done when US president Donald Trump visits India, it would be a big setback,” Alice Wells, US principal deputy assistant secretary for south and central Asian affairs said, according to ANI.
Trump starts a two-day visit to India on February 24, aimed at rebuilding bonds between the world’s largest democracies. Ahmedabad will be the first stop, followed by New Delhi and a brief stopover in Agra on the way back to the United States.
Trump himself had said on Tuesday that a trade agreement with India was possible during his upcoming visit but only if it was the “right deal”, indicating perhaps that negotiators from the two countries have not found it yet. But the lack of it would not be a trip-breaker.
A trade deal was seen as the chief goal for the trip when the two sides began planning the presidential trip.
“We wanted to do something, (but) we will see,” President Trump said to reporters at the White House, when asked if he is expected to sign a trade deal during the visit. “If we can make the right deal, we will do it.”
The United States is looking for greater access to the Indian market for its dairy producers and makers of medical devices and some other concessions, for a near-term deal, with the larger and more complex issues of a Free Trade Agreement and others kicked down the road to another time.
Indians, in return, are seeking the restorations of its benefits under a preferential US trade regime called the Generalized System of Preferences, which were terminated by the Trump administration last summer for India’s refusal to concede more market access to US companies.
Trump suspended India’s special trade designation last year that dated back to 1970s, after Modi put price caps on medical devices, such as cardiac stents and knee implants, and introduced new data localisation requirements and e-commerce restrictions.
Trump’s trip to India has raised hopes that he would restore some of the country’s US trade preferences, in exchange for tariff reductions and other concessions.
The US is India’s second-largest trade partner after China, and bilateral goods and services trade climbed to a record $142.6 billion in 2018. The US had a $23.2 billion goods trade deficit in 2019 with India, its ninth-largest trading partner in goods.