Donald Trump: Will talk trade with India, they have been hitting us hard for years

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Donald Trump. (AP/File)

Reiterating that New Delhi has not treated the United States “very well” on the trade front, US President Donald Trump on Friday emphasized the need to "talk a little business" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his two-day visit to India next week.

"I am going to India next week, and we are talking (about) trade. They have been hitting us very hard for many years. I really like PM Modi but we gotta talk a little business. They gave us tariffs. One of the highest tariffs in the world is those offered by India," Trump said in Washington.

The US President also referred to reports that a turnout of nearly 10 million is expected at Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad.

"I hear around six to 10 million people are going to show along the road to one of the largest cricket stadiums in the world, which is brand new and beautiful. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said we will have 10 million people greet you -- that is my problem. We have a packed house. We have thousands of people who will not be able to get in. It's going to look like peanuts from now on. How can we be satisfied if we fill a stadium of only 60,000 people?" he told the crowd.

This is perhaps not for the first time that Trump has expressed his disappointment over trade deals with India. Earlier on Tuesday, he indicated that a “very big” bilateral deal may not be signed before the American presidential election in November.

In Delhi, government sources said that while a major trade agreement seems unlikely during Trump’s visit on February 24-25, India is likely to sign a deal to buy 24 multi-role anti-submarine helicopters from American defence giant Lockheed Martin.

“Well, we can have a trade deal with India, but I’m really saving the big deal for later on,” Trump told reporters in Washington. “We’re not treated very well by India,” he said, adding, “I happen to like Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi a lot.”

Trump said he still wanted to do “a very big trade deal with India”, but added, “I don’t know if it will be done before the election.” The US President had earlier described India as a “tariff king” for imposing “tremendously high” rates on American products. India has maintained that the tariffs are comparable to major developing countries.

Sources said India and the US have “mutually agreed” that they “don’t want to rush into a deal”. The two sides want the deal to “strike a right balance” and be “mutually beneficial”, the sources said, adding that they are looking at a “win-win solution”, with the long-term objective of India and the US becoming “FTA partners”.

The two nations are readying at least five pacts on homeland security, trade facilitation and intellectual property rights. While the pact on homeland security will tackle counter-terrorism cooperation, the trade facilitation pact will look at providing a single-window system for US firms wanting to do business in India.

The two sides will also issue a joint statement, which will put significant emphasis on counter-terrorism, Indo-Pacific, space and nuclear issues.

Sources said while 8-10 pacts are under “active consideration”, about half-a-dozen are expected to be signed and announced during Trump’s visit.