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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

‘Will just continue to get along’: Donald Trump’s words calm India’s G20 team

Indian officials working on the visit said on background they felt both relieved and encouraged by the US President’s remarks.

india Updated: Jun 28, 2019 11:01 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan
US President Donald Trump meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan(AP)
         

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump discussed trade in their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, as had been expected, but their conversation was nowhere as acrimonious as the American leader had threatened on his way in.

“I think we will just continue to get along with India,” Trump said before the bilateral that had been watched closely by Indian officials and experts nervous about the US president’s intentions following his angry tweet demanding India should withdraw “unacceptable” tariffs on US products.

Indian officials working on the visit said on background they felt both relieved and encouraged by the US President’s remarks.

To get a sense of the concern triggered in India, here is what Trump wrote in a tweet on his way to Osaka: “I look forward to speaking with Prime Minister Modi about the fact that India, for years having put very high Tariffs against the United States, just recently increased the Tariffs even further. This is unacceptable and the Tariffs must be withdrawn!”

Trump did not specify, but he was probably referring to the retaliatory tariffs the Modi government imposed on American goods recently, after the United States terminated India’s special trade privileges under a zero-tariff programme, called the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), for denying US companies more access to Indian markets.

India had proposed these retaliatory tariffs in response to Trump’s levies on steel and aluminum goods from all of America’s suppliers in 2018, but had held on to them in the hope of finding a solution to their outstanding trade issue. Talks had been on, but the Trump administration announced GSP termination just days after Prime Minister Modi began his second term.

Also Read | ‘US-China trade war opportune time for India to attract multinationals’: Arvind Panagariya

There has been speculation that the United States has been mulling other trade actions against India as well.

Trade and tariff issues were discussed during US secretary of state Micheal Pompeo’s meetings during his India visit earlier in the week, wherein the two sides had agreed to keep talking.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar said, “We need to take a constructive and pragmatic view of issues relating to trade. The real test of our intentions is our ability to address them effectively.”

First Published: Jun 28, 2019 10:47 IST

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