US President Donald Trump is embarking on his much-delayed visit to India next week. The trip has already been dampened after reports emerged that an anticipated trade deal between the two countries will not be signed, highlighting the underlying tensions between the two countries.
In 2019, Trump suspended India’s special trade designation and preferential treatment, imposing duties on steel and aluminum duties. He said that India has been treating them very unfairly and called it the ‘tariff king’ after Modi put price caps on medical devices and introduced e-commerce restrictions. The visit had raised hopes to restore the trade preferences but any concession now seems elusive.
The US is India’s second-largest trade partner, and bilateral trade between both countries reached a record $142.6 billion in 2018. The US trade representative Robert Lighthizer had to cancel a trip to India this week despite being offered access to dairy and poultry industries. India seems to pander to the US to gain preferential treatment even though Trump has delayed a trade deal until the next elections.
Despite the animosity, India is expected to roll out the red carpet for Trump. The US President will be feted in Modi’s home state of Gujarat where he will inaugurate the world’s largest cricket stadium. The visit to Ahmedabad has already gained criticism after slum dwellers were sent eviction notices and a hastily made brick wall was erected on the route to the stadium to hide the view for Trump. India seems to hide the poverty-stricken dwellers just to appease the US president.
Trump will hold talks in New Delhi where a grand reception will be held and is expected to be greater than the one given to Barrack Obama in 2015. Both Trump and Modi like to be in the spotlight as one is a former reality TV host and another rose to fame over a hate-driven ideology. Modi has tried to build a personal rapport with Trump, invited him to his rally in Houston and is now making all stops to his visits with an extravagant roadshow just to welcome him.
India would certainly look to maintain ties so that its vested interests can be preserved and the US overlooks the onslaught on democratic traditions. While Trump will use the visit for his political gains as he seeks to secure a second presidential term later this year.