US President Donald Trump rules out India trade deal

Says Delhi isn’t treating US well on trade, promises very big deal with India in future.

New Delhi: With a grand welcome awaiting him during his first visit to India, US President Donald Trump on Wednesday expressed confidence that his country would sign a “big” trade deal with New Delhi, not during his visit but rather sometime “later”.

However, in an apparent reference to his claim that India has been blocking market access to US goods, Mr Trump said his country had “not been treated very well by India”.

As a sweetener, however, India will acquire defence equipment worth billions of dollars from the United States, including naval helicopters, Apache attack helicopters and missile systems to protect New Delhi from any hostile aerial threat. India has already procured $18 billion worth of defence equipment from America in the past few years.

On the trade front, sources in the Indian government made it clear that New Delhi is in “no hurry” to sign a trade deal with the US as the issue was “complicated”.

Sources also said India “doesn’t want to rush into a deal” and “will not compromise with national interests”.

Pointing out that India was seeking a “mutually-beneficial deal” and that negotiations were “not stuck”, sources added that India wants restoration of trade concessions under the GSP programme that was withdrawn by the US in 2019.

Trump’s visit will be brief but intense: MEA
President Trump, accompanied by his wife Melania, will be on a two-day visit to India on February 24 and 25, when he will visit Ahmedabad (on February 24), then possibly a brief stop in Agra to see the Taj Mahal before sunset that evening, and then to New Delhi, where he will hold official talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi the next day (February 25), during which the India-US strategic partnership, including defence, security, counter-terrorism, as well as trade and energy, will be discussed.

India is also expected to reiterate its position on Kashmir, defending the revocation of Article 370 in August and opposing any third-party mediation on the matter.

On Wednesday, Trump told the US media in Washington: “We can have a trade deal with India but I’m really saving the big deal for later on. We’re doing a very big trade deal with India. We’ll have it. I don’t know if it will be done before the elections, but we’ll have a very big deal with India. We’re not treated very well by India but I happen to like Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi a lot and he told me we’ll have seven million people between the airport and the event and the stadium.

I understand it is sort of semi-under construction, but it’s going to be the largest stadium in the world. So it’s going to be very exciting. But he (PM Modi) says that between the stadium and the airport, we’ll have seven million people. So it’s going to be very exciting, I hope you’ll all enjoy it.”

The Indian government is pulling out all stops to give the US President a grand welcome when he lands in Ahmedabad on February 24. Thousands of people are expected to welcome the US President, who will be accompanied by Modi at a major roadshow and in the large newly-constructed Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad, which is the world’s largest cricket stadium.

Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Wednesday that President Trump’s visit will be a “brief but intense” one lasting about 36 hours, with visits to Ahmedabad on the morning of February 24, Agra in the evening the same day and then to New Delhi where he will hold talks with Narendra Modi.

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