Down to business for Trump in India
US President Donald Trump moves from sightseeing and speech-making to tough trade talks in India on Tuesday, as First Lady Melania visits a Delhi school to witness a “happiness class”.
Despite sharing strategic concerns over China that have led to deepening defence ties, relations over trade have worsened under Trump’s “America First” drive to reduce the $25-billion US deficit with India.
Trump arrived on Monday and hailed India and its “tremendously successful” but “very tough” Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a rowdy rally of 100,000 at the world’s largest cricket stadium.
“The life of Prime Minister Modi underscores the limitless promise of this great nation. He started out by his father’s side as a chai wallah — a tea-seller,” Trump told the rapturous crowd.
Name-checking Bollywood films and Indian cricketers, Trump — with an eye on elections in November — paid tribute to the four-million-strong Indian-American diaspora as “truly spectacular people”.
The razzmatazz of the “Namaste Trump” event was recompense for a “Howdy Modi” extravaganza in Houston last year when the two leaders held hands and Trump compared Modi to Elvis Presley.
“Mr Trump has given a tremendous speech and it’s really touched our minds and hearts, and I am sure he has spoken with honesty and integrity,” said Shrilak Shah, one of the spectators.
Trump and Melania — in an off-white jump suit and sash — then flew to the Taj Mahal, the Islamic mausoleum and monument to love, where they held hands.
“It’s a timeless testament to the rich and diverse beauty of Indian culture! Thank you India,” Trump gushed in the guest book.
– Almond wrestle –
But behind the bonhomie and photo opportunities, a comprehensive trade deal between the world’s biggest economy and the country projected soon to be its most populous looks remote.
While small fry compared to his trade war with China, the Trump White House has imposed tariffs on Indian steel and aluminium and suspended duty-free access for certain goods.
Modi, who has his own “Make in India” mantra, has responded with higher tariffs on certain US goods like $600 million worth of Californian almonds……..read more