On Trump’s India visit, assurance of ‘one of the biggest’ trade deals, and hope for growth
Undaunted by the inability of the US and India to hammer out a limited trade package before his visit to the country, President Donald Trump said on Monday that the two sides were working on “one of the biggest ever” trade deals that he hoped would remove barriers to investments and drive growth.
The two countries engaged in intense negotiations for more than a year on the trade package centred round greater market access for American medical devices and agricultural and dairy products and the restoration of benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for India.
However, the two sides were unable to bridge their gaps before Trump’s arrival, with India signalling that it was in no rush to finalise a deal that compromised national interests and had long-term consequences for millions of people.
Trump made no mention of these differences in his speech at the ‘Namaste Trump’ rally here and instead highlighted the potential for trade to further drive the strategic partnership between the two sides, especially at a time when the US economy is “booming like never before” and “unemployment has hit historic lows”.
Noting that his discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi will focus on expanding economic ties, Trump said: “We will be making a very, very major, among the biggest ever made trade deals.”
The US and India, he added, are in the early stages of negotiating an “incredible deal to reduce barriers of investments”.
He added he was optimistic that he and Modi, who is a “very tough negotiator”, could “reach a fantastic deal that is good, and even great, for both of our countries”.
However, he did not give any time frame for a trade deal, perhaps underlining the complex issues involved in the negotiations.
Trump noted that trade between the two sides had increased by more than 40% since he assumed office in 2017 and the US is now India’s largest export market.
“A booming America is a great thing for India and it’s great for the world...,” the US President added.
In an apparent reference to the US call for India to do more to improve market access for American goods, Trump said: “In America, we have proven that the best way to attract jobs and opportunity is to reduce burdens on business, knock down barriers to new investment and eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy, red tape, regulation and taxes.”
He lauded Modi for “significant reforms” in India and said: “The world looks forward to even more rapid improvement to India’s business climate under his leadership. He wants to do it and he is doing it at a record pace.”
Trump also recalled his daughter Ivanka’s visit to India in 2018 to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad and noted the role played by Indian women entrepreneurs, saying the men have to be very careful as they are “really good”.
The president also noted the work being done together by the two countries for space exploration and praised India’s “impressive strides” in its Chandrayaan programme to send a probe to the moon.
The United States, he said, looks forward to expanding space cooperation and the two sides will be “friends and partners in our voyage into the stars and into space”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledged this and pointed to emerging opportunities.
“The US is the largest trading partner of India... The increase of manufacturing and infrastructure in India will bring new possibilities for the US. The increase of digital economy in the country will create many opportunities of investment for the US”.