Even though there are no signs of a trade deal between India and the United States during President Donald Trump's visit to India, it is quite possible that the two sign defense deals in the overture. Sources on Wednesday said the two sides do not want to rush in finalizing a trade deal, adding that they would take a decision only after considering a long-term view on the same. However, sources indicated that some defense deals may fructify during the visit.
Not keeping the hopes high on a trade pact, Trump had said that he was saving the big deal for later on. He is scheduled to visit India on February 24 and February 25. President Trump and PM Modi will hold extensive talks on February 25 on a range of issues, including defence and trade.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the point-person for trade negotiations with India, may not accompany Trump to India, sources said. However, officials have not ruled it out altogether.
Multiple rounds of talks have taken place between Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Lighthizer in the past few weeks over telephone.
India is demanding exemption from high duties imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminium products, resumption of export benefits to certain domestic products under their Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), greater market access for its products from sectors including agriculture, automobile, auto components and engineering.
On the other hand, the US wants greater market access for its farm and manufacturing products, dairy items and medical devices, and cut on import duties on some ICT products. The US has also raised concerns over high trade deficit with India which was USD 16.9 billion in 2018-19.
Though President Trump is not happy with the bilateral trade ties, he praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said he is looking forward to his visit to India.
(With PTI inputs)