Expectations high on ‘mini’ trade deal during Trump’s visit: India Inc


PTI, Feb 16, 2020, 5:07 PM IST

New Delhi: India Inc expects tangible outcomes from US President Donald Trump’s maiden visit to the world’s fifth-largest economy later this month, including a bilateral “mini” trade deal and higher investment commitments from American companies, industry groups said on Sunday.

The two countries are negotiating a trade package to iron out certain issues and promote two-way commerce.

India is demanding exemption from high duties imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminium products, resumption of export benefits to certain domestic products under the Generalised System of Preferences, and greater market access for its products from sectors like agriculture, automobile, auto components and engineering.

On the other hand, the US wants greater market access for its farm and manufacturing products, dairy items and medical devices, data localisation, and cut on import duties on some information and communication technology (ICT) products. The US has also raised concerns over high trade deficit with India.

“Expectations remain high on achieving a bilateral ‘mini’ trade deal, which hopefully lays the foundation for a more comprehensive economic partnership. As Indian industry enhances its investment and job creation in the US, we expect an interaction of President Trump with leading Indian companies operating in the US,” Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said.

“Trade negotiators from India and the US have been working hard to add value to the bilateral economic engagement, leveraging on their mutual advantages. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosts Trump to a national reception, the two leaders would give a decisive lift to bilateral ties,” Assocham Secretary General Deepak Sood said.

At the invitation of Prime Minister Modi, Trump is slated to travel to India on February 24 and 25. According to sources, Trump will meet the country’s top business leaders here on February 25 in a bid to push for deeper trade and business ties.

A CEO’s round-table will be organised to facilitate a meeting between the US President and corporate honchos in the national capital. Senior bureaucrats are also expected to attend the meeting, besides top executives from American corporations.

Leaders including Reliance Industries CMD Mukesh Ambani, Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal, Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran, Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra, Larsen and Toubro Chairman A M Naik and Biocon CMD Kiran Mazumdar Shaw are expected to attend the round-table meeting with Trump, one of the sources said, adding that the US Embassy in New Delhi is coordinating the event while the list of attendees has been shared with the White House for clearance.

Research by CII shows that at least 100 Indian companies have invested nearly USD 18 billion and created over 1,13,000 jobs in the US.

“There have been several recent announcements by Indian companies, that have shown the growing impact Indian investment can have on the US economy and society, and we fully expect that to increase. Likewise, we expect even higher investment commitments from US companies into India,” Banerjee observed.

“Most of the Fortune 500 US companies have an overwhelming presence in India while leading Indian corporates in manufacturing and services have expanded their foothold across the US market. When it comes to goods, the US is finding greater market access in India, as is reflected in the trade data,” Sood said.

In 2018-19, India’s exports to the US stood at USD 52.4 billion, while imports were USD 35.5 billion. Trade deficit dipped from USD 21.3 billion in 2017-18 to USD 16.9 billion in 2018-19.

India received FDI worth USD 3.13 billion from the US in 2018-19, higher than USD 2 billion in 2017-18.

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