India, US won’t rush pacts; big deal later, says Trump

Saving big trade deal with India for later: Trump

Sandeep Dikshit

TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 19

Not treated very well by India: Us prez

We’re not treated very well by India, but I happen to like PM Modi a lot…. Well, we can have a trade deal with India, but I’m really having the big deal for later on….

Donald Trump on his India visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump are expected to issue a vision statement on February 25 setting out the road map for more intensive bilateral cooperation in defence, trade, science and technology and R&D cooperation even as the tangibles will be restricted to a few defence deals and an Indian Expression of Interest to invest more in the US oil sector, said senior government sources.

The statement will highlight the importance of the strategic Indo-US relationship, including a focus on the Asia-Pacific, as well as provide a foundation for both countries to work with each other with a free trade agreement (FTA) as the end game of their trade negotiations.

“Our relationship is not necessarily of a transactional nature. We have come to a stage where a summit-level exchange can take place without looking for deliverables. The visit will not produce many tangible results but the outcome will be surprisingly great for it will enforce ongoing cooperation and provide direction to catalyse action,” added the sources. US President Donald Trump had on Tuesday complained that India had not treated his country “very well” on the trade front and indicated that a “very big” bilateral deal with New Delhi might not be signed before the American presidential election in November.

Trump’s remarks an insult, says Congress

On the eve of his first visit to India as US President, Trump has said India has not treated the US fairly... it is an insult, an affront to our dignity as a country. I hope the MEA or PM will respond to it.

Manish Tewari, Cong spokesperson

On the receding prospects of a trade deal, the Indian approach is to avoid a lopsided deal and instead seek increased market access for itself as well as for the US. However, the entry of US dairy and poultry sector was not on the table during negotiations. “We are working on a big trade deal and don’t want to rush such a complicated thing which impacts people’s lives and has other long-term economic consequences,” said the sources while drawing an analogy from the hasty FTAs signed by India in 2010-11 whose consequences “are with us”.

While not agreeing with the US view that India was a “tariff king”, the sources said countries like Korea and Japan had higher tariffs on many items. They also said India’s tariff lines were comparable with that of other developing countries.

As with trade, the Indian view is that defence acquisitions are part of an ongoing programme and not limited to the visit. “I don’t think we should show that we do deals during a visit. Some deals may fructify but the intention is not to bring them to a conclusion because of the visit,” said the sources while referring to reports about plans to sign defence deals worth $3.5 billion. “The US is one of the few most consequential relationships that India has. We have already bought defence items worth $18 bn since 2000,” pointed out the sources.

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