One-Way Ticket: Trump Visit Ends As India Ends Up Buying More

Despite strong hopes of two-way trade between the two countries, it was the US who ended up signing a massive $3 billion deal to supply advanced military equipment, with India left with little to show for.

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Despite India Inc’s hopes of some important headway into bilateral trade with the world’s largest economy, US President Donald Trump’s much anticipated visit and subsequent hailing of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have yielded little in terms of business for India.


The US on Tuesday inked a $3 billion deal to supply advanced military equipment including Apache and MH-60 helicopters. “These deals will enhance our joint defense capabilities as our militaries continue to train and operate side-by-side,” Trump said in a joint statement.

Separately, US oil major Exxon Mobil Corp signed a deal with the Indian Oil Corp to deliver natural gas in containers to Indian cities that are outside the pipeline network.

Commenting on bilateral trade, Trump added that it was one of the major focus areas during his discussions with Modi that economic relationships are fair and reciprocal.

“Our teams have made tremendous progress on a comprehensive trade agreement and I’m optimistic we can reach a deal that will be of great importance to both countries,” he said.

The thoughts were similar to Modi’s who said that both countries’ commerce ministers had had very positive discussions.

“We have also agreed to initiate negotiations for a bigger deal.  We are confident that this will yield good results that will be in our mutual interest,” said PM Modi.

All Love, No Deal

While diplomatic ties between the two countries has seen significant improvement in the last couple of decades with former US President Barack Obama too visiting India twice during his tenure, the Modi-Trump relationship has been particularly noteworthy. Modi visited the grand ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston late last year to much fanfare and praise from the Indian community living in the US.

However, amid all the noise, there is little to show for Narendra Modi and India. India has long been demanding exemption from high duties imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminium products as well as more market access for products in certain sectors.

In 2018-19, India's exports to the US was $52.4 billion, while imports amounted to $35.5 billion. The trade deficit fell to $16.9 billion from $21.3 billion a year earlier.

“Since I took office, U.S. exports to India are up nearly 60 percent and exports of high-quality American energy have grown by...500 percent,” said Trump.

This visit also comes at an opportune time for the US President. Trump faces a tough re-election campaign this year, having been impeached by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives in December. He was later acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate.