'They've Been Hitting Us With Tariffs But I Really Like Modi': Trump Keeps India Guessing on Trade Deal


Colorado (US): US President Donald Trump on Thursday said India has been “hitting us hard with tariffs for many, many years”, even as he expressed his fondness for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Addressing a rally in Colorado, Trump kept up his tirade about India’s “unfair treatment” but added that “new trade deals will likely be done”. “Great new trade deals will likely be done. I am going to India next week. They have been hitting us hard for many, many years but I really like Prime Minister Modi. We'll talk a little business. They give us tariffs, one of the highest in the world. But I hear they are going to have 10 million people showing up along one of the largest stadiums in the world,” Trump said.

The US President sought to draw a comparison between the crowds at US and India and said: "But you know what the only problem in doing that… Prime Minister Modi said we will have a packed house. We have thousands of people who couldn't get in. It's going to look peanuts from now on. I have never been saddened by the crowd, but when we have 10 million people in India how can everyone be satisfied with a 60,000 seat stadium.”

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, while answering a question on India-US trade deal during the weekly press briefing on Thursday, said India has been engaging with the US for quite some time and “we do hope to reach an understanding with an outcome that strikes the right balance for both sides”.

The US President will be arriving on his first official tour to India on February 24 for a two-day visit. He will attend an event at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad, named 'Namaste Trump,' on the lines of the 'Howdy Modi' that was addressed by the US President and Modi in Houston in September last year.

According to Pew Research Centre, a Washington-based think tank, Trump's image in India has gained favour since his candidacy in 2016, jumping from 14 per cent confidence to 56 per cent over three years. However, when asked about their views of Trump's policy on increasing tariffs or fees on imported goods from other countries, nearly 48 per cent of Indians said they disapproved the following.

In the past year, Washington has expanded aluminium and steel tariffs and also stripped New Delhi of its preferential trading partner status under the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) that provided better access to American markets and better tariff rates for Indian exporters.