Trade deal not before the end of the year, says US President.

True to his style, US President Donald Trump did not mince words when he said that India needs to work on its tariffs if it wanted better trade relations with America.

At a press conference called at short notice, Trump, to a question, said, “India is probably the highest tariff nation… I said you have to stop that, especially those that pertain to American states. I think we are understanding each other.”

The press conference, which Trump himself moderated, was free flowing with the US President taking questions from both international and Indian media.

Harley Davidson case

Citing the case of Harley Davidson, the US-based premium motorbike manufacturer, Trump said the company had to pay very high tariffs when it exported to India. But Indian companies faced almost no tariffs when they exported motorbikes to the US, the President said, adding that it was unfair treatment.

Trump expressed unhappiness over tariffs being raised recently by India, alluding to the import duty hike on 111 non-essential items in the Budget. “It (the tariff) has to be reciprocal. The US has to be treated fairly. India understands that,” he said.

The President expressed satisfaction that the US’ trade deficit with India had declined “from $30 billion to $24 billion’’, but said it must be pared further.

Trade deal

On the proposed India-US trade deal, the US President said that if the deal is reached, it would happen at the end of the year. “If it (the deal) doesn’t happen, it will be something else that is very satisfactory,” he added.

To a question on the details of energy security deal discussed with India and whether the nuclear deal between the two countries is still on board, he did not respond. But, when asked whether there would be economic sanctions against oil trade with Venezuela and if companies buying from the country would also be penalised, Trump said that it was still being worked out.

India, a ‘tremendous player’

On India’s growth potential, Trump said the country was going to be a tremendous player over the next 50-100 years. He said it was doing a “fantastic job’’ in sectors like education. The US President’s 36-hour India trip saw three agreements being inked in health and oil sectors and the $3-billion defence deal.