Donald Trump and PM Modi exchanging a handshake in Delhi on February 25, 2020. (Photo Credit: Twitter/@MEAIndia)
American President Donald Trump, who was on a two-day state visit to India, Tuesday said that the US and India have made "tremendous progress" on a comprehensive trade agreement and expressed confidence that a deal that will benefit both the countries will soon be a reality. He said the trade deal with India could be signed by towards the end of the year. However, this seemed unlikely given the US Presidential elections are schedulled to be held in November this year.
Trump's remarks came after extensive talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a host of issues, including trade and investment. At a joint statement after talks, Modi also said that they agreed to start negotiations for a "big trade deal" and hoped that it will yield good results in mutual interest.
President Trump, in turn, said, "Our teams have made tremendous progress on a comprehensive trade agreement and I'm optimistic we can reach a deal that will be of great importance to both countries."
Modi said India and the US are committed to openness and fair and balanced trade in the economic sector. "Our bilateral trade has witnessed double-digit growth in the last three years, and has also become more balanced...As far as bilateral trade is concerned, there have been positive talks between our commerce ministers," Modi said.
Later, addressing a press conference in the evening, Trump said if the trade deal with India happens, it will be by the end of the year and if it doesn't "we'll do something else" and it will be very good. He once again complained of "large amount of tariffs" imposed by India on his country's products.
Defence deals worth USD 3 billion under which 30 military helicopters will be procured from two American defence majors for Indian armed forces have also bee finalised by India and the US. The announcement on the deals were made by Trump after his wide-ranging talks with PM Modi.
A joint statement said Trump noted that a strong and capable Indian military supports peace, stability, and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific and reaffirmed his pledge to support the transfer to India of advanced US military technology.
Under a USD 2.6 billion deal, India will buy 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters from Lockheed Martin for the Indian Navy. Another contract to acquire six AH-64E Apache helicopters for USD 800 million from aerospace giant Boeing has also been sealed.