Hinting that a bilateral trade deal with India may not be on the cards during his visit next week, US President Donald Trump said he is “saving the big deal” for later. Trump added that he “does not know” if the deal would go through before the upcoming Presidential elections in November this year, PTI reported.
“We can have a trade deal with India. But I'm really saving the big deal for later,” Trump told reporters at the Joint Base Andrews-Naval Air Facility in Maryland on Tuesday afternoon, the news agency said.
Trump is scheduled to visit Ahmedabad and New Delhi on February 24 and 25. His trip is already making headlines for the wrong reasons with slum dwellers in Gujarat’s capital getting eviction notices and a wall being constructed so that they are also hidden from view.
Reports in the media have speculated that a trade deal between the two countries could happen during the visit. Trump has played it down however with PTI reporting the US President said he doesn’t “know if it'll be done before the election, but we'll have a very big deal with India.”
Multiple agencies have reported that US trade representative Robert Emmet Lighthizer, in-charge of negotiations with India, will not be accompanying him on the visit. The news agency however added the caveat that officials are not ruling out a deal as yet.
Trump, who has sparked a trade-war with China already, seemed miffed about trade-ties with India as well, reportedly saying that his country is “not treated very well by India”. He was however, effusive in his praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he happens to “like Prime Minister Modi a lot.”
PTI reported that the US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) said that latest quarterly data indicates a positive bilateral trade trends between the two countries but that the third quarter had seen a dip in growth rates.
“It may be due to several reasons, including the unexpected economic slowdown in India's economic growth, impact of US-China trade war, GSP withdrawal from the US side and retaliatory tariffs on specific US goods from the Indian side,” USISPF reportedly said.
The report mentions that data between January and September (three quarters) in 2019, cumulative bilateral trade dipped to 4.5% from 8.4% in the first six months of the previous year. It added that goods and services trade was down to -2.3% in the third quarter, down from 9.6% in the first two quarters.
US exports and imports from India reportedly improved, growing at 4% and 5% respectively in the first three quarters of 2019. The US exported about $45.3 billion worth of goods and services during the same period while importing $65.6 billion worth of goods and services during the period. Both figures were up 4% and 5% respectively as compared to 2018 figures between January and September.
The US is said to be the top trading partner for India when it comes to goods and services, followed by China with the North American country dealing 62% in goods and 38% in services from India. While trade with the US reportedly increased by 18% in 2018, trade with China increased at a rate of 13% during the same year.
The goods that the US exports to India are predominantly mineral fuels, precious stones, and aircraft and faces competition from China in electronics, machinery, organic chemicals and the medical devices market.
IANS reports that one of the “sticking points” in the trade deal is the proposed Data Protection legislation in India which has been sent to a joint Parliamentary Committee at the moment. The agency says that the proposed law would need for credit cards issuers to store their data in India and that agreeing to US demands against such a move would prove difficult.