Trump Administration To Negotiate ‘New And Better Trade Deals’ with India

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New Delhi: To address an irritant in bilateral relations that has gone against growing convergence and closeness in defence and strategic matters, the Donald Trump administration is in the initial stages of negotiating “new and better trade deals” with India.

“A number of administration officials just recently came back from India. They expressed their willingness to negotiate new and better trade deals, and those conversations are at the beginning stages,” White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders told a news briefing on Monday.

Earlier on the same day, Alice Wells, head of the state department’s South and Central Asia bureau, said the two sides had a “frank and open” discussion on trade at the first 2+2 dialogue in New Delhi, and both sides had acknowledged “fair and reciprocal trade” is in their interest.

Wells told reporters during a conference call the US is working with India to address challenges related to market access, including tariff and non-tariff barriers.

“What I heard out of the 2+2 is a commitment by our leadership to the importance of resolving this and coming out (with) a fair agreement that meets the needs of the US and India, the private sector as well as the people,” she said.

At a rally on Friday, President Donald Trump said India wants to discuss a trade deal. “Frankly, I’ll tell you, India called us the other day. They said they would like to start doing a trade deal, first time. They wouldn’t talk about it with previous administrations,” he said, without revealing who called and when.

Despite growing bilateral trade – up from $20 billion in 2000 to $126 billion in 2017 – differences on trade-related issues such as intellectual property rights protection, market access and non-tariff barriers have persisted, and been exacerbated by President Donald Trump’s focus on fair and reciprocal trade. The US has a trade deficit of $27.3 billion with India.

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