Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump
Image source: Narendra Modi/Twitter

Even though US President Donald Trump on Wednesday indicated that the limited trade deal under negotiations with India will not be signed during his ensuing visit slated for February 24 and 25, the industry bodies observe that such hard stand generally being used by the US as bargaining tool.

Industry bodies including the Confederation of Indian Industry, Indian Merchants Chamber and Infrastructure and Logistic Federation of India hope that the ''mini'' trade deal will further strengthen the economic partnership. The limited or interim trade agreement was expected to cover tariff-related concessions for US farm products, especially dairy items, pricing of pharmaceutical products such as stents and knee implants, and information and communication technology products.

Trump told reporters in the US,'' We can have a trade deal with India but I am really saving the big trade deal for later on. We are doing a very big trade deal with India. We will have it. I don't know whether we will have it before the election, but we will have a very big deal with India."

However, IMC deputy director Sanjay Mehta observed that there are always such rhetoric from the US side as they are used as bargaining tools. ''However, India should not be in a hurry to sign any deal with the US. India will have to think strategy before we make any commitment as our export are down due to the revocation of Generalized System of Preference. There are trade barriers imposed by the US on agri products like rice, wheat, sugar and milk products of which India has adequate surplus to export,'' he noted.He suggested that overall India will have to take position before committing to any relaxation on trade barriers for US imports to India. ''Despite such overtures by the US, it may want to work out some kind of a deal which is of interest to the US but might adversely affect India,'' he noted.

Infrastructure & Logistic Federation of India former president Sushil Jiwarajka admits that there are mixed expectations about the outcome of the US President's visit. ''Given the recent hard stand expressed recently by the US administration, many seem to be skeptical about substantial deal being worked out during the proposed visit. However, I believe that deals in energy, defence and high technology will get concluded and there is a possibility of limited deal will be signed relating to certain items,'' he viewed.

Satyagiri Group chairman Dinesh Joshi said that US may aggressively pursue its agenda to the maximum in its favour. ''However, India should not get bogged down when such agendas get pushed. At the same time, areas of synergy and cooperation must be looked to progress towards the new partnership,'' he added.

CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee opined that expectations remain high on achieving a bilateral ''mini'' trade deal which hopefully lays the foundation for a more comprehensive economic relationship. ''Both countries must work together to be at the leading edge of the frontiers of knowledge and technology. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are transforming business and lives. We hope governments, industry and academia will come together to explore this further and co create technologies for the future,'' he said.

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