From the Viewsroom

Cold-shouldered by Trump

Amiti Sen | Updated on January 11, 2018

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Atmospherics apart, little came out of Modi’s US visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the US has done precious little to soften the Trump government’s hard posture on the trade front with India. The beatific pictures of both leaders notwithstanding, Trump did not mince words in telling Modi that in his view it was American business which was treated unfairly in India, and not vice versa. In their bilateral meeting, the US President asked the Indian PM to remove barriers to export of US goods to India and work on reducing the US’ $31-billion trade deficit with India. The fact that India does not impose any specific barriers on US exports and that its tariffs are uniform for all countries did not seem to matter. Not surprisingly, the need to increase market access in manufacturing and agricultural goods featured prominently in the joint statement. The US government’s decision to investigate into whether the bilateral deficit was due to cheating and wrong trade practices went unchallenged. Modi could not voice his disappointment.

What is puzzling is the complete silence on the H1B visa restrictions in the joint communiqué. Efforts are also on to ensure that more restrictions being considered by the US Congress, that could spell doom for Indian IT companies in the US, do not get implemented.

The fact that this single-most important issue for India got completely bypassed indicates the influence the US wields in such high-level meetings. India should have made more efforts to ensure the matter received some mention. To avoid important issues because they are difficult is not a good idea. One can now only hope that the proposed comprehensive review process of trade relations mentioned in the joint statement gives at least as much weight to the problems of the Indian industry as its American counterparts.

Deputy Editor

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Published on July 04, 2017
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