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March 31, 2020

Little progress on trade, India, US to talk defence during Trump’s visit

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India is in no rush to finalise a trade deal with the US that compromises national interests though some big-ticket defence purchases, including a $2.6-billion deal for Seahawk helicopters, are expected to be finalised during President Donald Trump’s visit, people familiar with the developments said on Wednesday.

Following intense exchanges on trade-related issues in recent months. Also, commerce minister Piyush Goyal and US trade representative Robert Lighthizer mutually agreed not to rush into a deal in view of the complicated issues involved. However, said the people who asked not to identify.

India is in no rush to finalise a trade deal with the US

Trump too downplayed the possibility of a limited trade package being unveiled when he visits India during February 24-25, saying on Tuesday he was “saving the big deal for later on”, possibly after the US election in November, when he will seek a second term.

“We’re doing a very big trade deal with India. We’ll have it. I don’t know if it will done before the election. Also, but we’ll have a very big deal with India,” Trump told reporters in Washington.

In New Delhi, a person familiar with the planning for the visit said the goal was to reach “an understanding on trade with an outcome that strikes the right balance for both sides” as India was still grappling with the consequences of free trade agreements (FTAs) signed during 2010-11. India is also keen to take things forward to the level of having an FTA with the US, the person added.

“Both Lighthizer and Goyal mutually agreed that we do not want to rush into a deal as the issues complicated and with many decisions potentially having an impact on people’s lives and long-term economic consequences,” the person said.

The two sides should look to win-win solutions for the future

The two sides should look to win-win solutions for the future instead of making short-term decisions. “As we do that, we don’t want to have any compromise. However, when it comes to the interests of the people of our country. Also, we are not in a hurry to rush into a trade deal on the eve of the visit,” the person added.

There was considerable speculation that the two sides would finalize a limited trade package. However, ahead of Trump’s visit but reportedly unable to reach common ground on contentious issues such as market access. Also, opening Indian markets to dairy and agricultural products, and medical devices and data localization. India, for its part, wants the restoration of benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences. Also, which withdrew last year.

Absence of a trade pact hasn’t dented the mutual enthusiasm in expanding trade

“While the absence of a trade pact hasn’t dented the mutual enthusiasm in expanding trade. Also, investment ties, we want India and the US to become FTA partners. That an objective that stated before. Also, we continue to state that objective as one both countries aspire to,” said the person cited above.

The two sides, however, expected to conclude some defense and energy deals. Also, with people familiar with developments saying the Cabinet Committee on Security had on Wednesday. However, cleared the $2.6-billion deal for 24 MH-60R helicopters for the Indian Navy’s anti-submarine warfare and surveillance operations.

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