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Trump may offer trade deal to Modi, sign it in India

September 18, 2019 11:44 IST

Indications are that a 'preliminary agreement' may be unveiled during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US this week, with President Trump signing the final deal in India in November. 

US President Donald Trump's participation in Sunday's 'Howdy Modi' event in Houston may hog the headlines, but in the background frenetic efforts are being made by the administration to present a trade negotiation breakthrough. 

The Washington Examiner reports that a 'preliminary agreement' may be unveiled during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US this week, with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer's team racing against time iron out a first draft of the agreement this week. 

This would set the ground for a final agreement in November, when President Trump may visit New Delhi, the National Examiner reports. 

'I can confirm intensive discussions between [trade officials] on both sides, putting together a trade package,' a Trump administration official has been quoted as saying by the National Examiner


While Prime Minister Modi's itinerary includes at least one meeting with President Trump on Sunday, it is as yet unclear if the two leaders will meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly's annual gathering in New York next week. 

Quoting multiple sources, the National Examiner reports that the deal being worked out would address recent disputes between the two major democracies. 

'The proposal would restore India's status as a beneficiary of the Generalized System of Preferences program, or GSP, thereby lowering the price of many Indian-made goods in the United States. In exchange, Modi would agree to make it easier for American companies to work in India in a few key sectors,' the Examiner reports. 

Incidentally, on Tuesday, 'a bipartisan group of 44 United States influential lawmakers has urged the Trump administration to reinstate India's designation as a beneficiary developing nation under the key Generalized System of Preferences trade programme as part of a potential trade deal between the two countries,' reports Press Trust of India, a status that was terminated by the Trump administration in June this year. 

'In a letter to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the House members suggest an "early harvest" approach that "would ensure that long-sought market access gains for US industries are not held up by negotiations over remaining issues",' reports PTI. 

The proposed agreement would help the Trump administration tout a success story in the midst of an ongoing, bruising trade war with China, and takes forward US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's statement on "forging a new kind of cooperation" with India.

The Rediff Business Desk