POST TIME: 24 February, 2020 12:14:08 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 24 February, 2020 12:25:41 AM
‘America First’ vs ‘Make in India’ as Modi set to host Trump
AFP, New Delhi

‘America First’ vs ‘Make in India’ as Modi set to host Trump

Workers paint the side of a road near Kheria Airport in Agra yesterday, ahead of US President Donald Trump’s first official visit to India. AFP Photo

Trade ties between the United States and India have long been problematic but under "America First" President Donald Trump and "Make in India" Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they have worsened. While eclipsed by his trade war with China, Trump's tussle with India, and New Delhi's prickly reaction, made a major pact unlikely during the American president's visit to the world's fifth-largest economy.

"They've been hitting us very, very hard for many, many years," Trump said of India ahead of the 36-hour trip to Ahmedabad, Agra and New Delhi accompanied by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and others. Here, AFP looked at the main issues of contention between the two countries on trade, which hit almost $145 billion in 2018, with the US deficit of $25 billion -- much to Trump's annoyance:

India had a penchant for protectionism. Its import tariffs are among the world’s highest. Under Modi, facing slowing growth, accelerating inflation and a widening budget deficit, this hasn’t changed.

Under pressure from farmers and fearing yet more cheap Chinese imports, Modi in November baulked at joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a trade pact including Asia’s main economies and China.

In recent months, Modi’s government has hiked duties on US imports, including on $600 million worth of Californian almonds as well as apples, steel and chemicals coming into Asia’s third-largest economy.