After trump says ‘saving big deal for later’, Indian officials convey similar message. Both sides agree more deliberations needed for an agreement.

India and the US have delinked the much-anticipated bilateral trade deal from the upcoming visit of President Donald Trump, while affirming to continue talks with the larger purpose of eventually moving toward a free trade agreement (FTA). “We can have a trade deal with India, but I am really saving the big trade deal for later on. We are doing a big trade deal with India. We will have it. I don’t know whether we will have it before the election, but we will have a very big deal with India,” Trump said in Washington.

Hours later, senior government officials in Delhi sought to convey a similar message. They indicated that more deliberations were needed for a deal, while pointing toward the larger ambition of having an FTA.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, who had called off an earlier visit to India, is still a part of the delegation accompanying Trump, along with commerce secretary Wilbur Ross. The list, however, is not final and is expected to change.

The Indo-US partnership had matured beyond being tied down to a ‘big-ticket item’ ahead of a summit meeting, said government officials. “The absence of a trade pact has not dented the mutual enthusiasm to expand trade,” they said.

Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla said bilateral trade is growing, and would cross the $150-billion mark this year.