FEBRUARY 22, 2020
President Donald Trump held out on Thursday the possibility of the announcement of a”tremendous deal” on trade during his upcoming visit to India, but took it back in the same breath, saying the two sides may “slow it down” for now and do it after the November election in which he is seeking a second term.
Prospects of the two sides signing a limited trade deal during the February 24-25 visit have looked slim recent days after a top US trade negotiator cancelled an India visit to wrap up negotiations without ascribing reasons. Trump himself then said he is “saving the big deal for later on”, possibly after the November election.
Yet another twist now. “We’re going to India, and we may make a tremendous deal there, or maybe we’ll slow it down,” Trump said in Las Vegas. “We’ll do it after the election. I think that could happen too. So we’ll see what happens. But we’re only making deals if they’re good deals, because we’re putting America first. ”
People familiar with the discussions have not discounted the possibility of the announcement of a deal during President Trump’s two-day visit, and have said, optimistically, that efforts are on, but they also seemed reconciled with the eventuality of going through the visit without a deal.
The United States is seeking access to Indian markets in dairy and poultry, removal of control over medical device prices in a limited trade deal and India has sought relief from tariffs on is steel and aluminium exports to the US and restoration of benefits under a zero-duty preferential trade programme.
A larger and more ambitious agreement was left for sometime in the future. It would include a Free Trade Agreement and resolutions of the other more complex issues. But President Trump may have merged the two now as he has spoken in recent says of a “big deal”, the one he has saved for later.
The announcement of a limited deal was expected to be the defining achievement of Trump’s first visit to India as president (he was in Mumbai in 2014 in connection with his businesses). But with the talks stalemated, both sides appeared more focussed on a public rally Trump is addressing in Ahmedabad.
The American president has spoken of the rally several times and with much excitement. He expects to see “millions” of people from the airport to the stadium, as promised to him, he has said, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He has seemed impressed with the numbers, how they compared with the crowds of 50,000 he is drawing at home.
President Trump has also been playfully pushing a rivalry with Prime Minister Modi — for supremacy of Facebook. For the second time, he brought it up on Thursday and twice, in Las Vegas and in Colorado, his next stop. He cited Mark Zuckerberg, the social media site’s founder, to claim he is No 1 and Modi No 2.
Zuckerberg told him so at a dinner three weeks ago. And Trump , who cares about numbers and crowd sizes, brought it up with Modi. “I congratulated Prime Minister Modi (on coming second). I said, ‘But, you know, you have 1.5 billion people. I have 350 million. You have an advantage’.”
It could not be ascertained how Zuckerberg declared Trump No 1, and Modi No 2, if he did indeed. Modi appears way ahead of the American president in “likes” and “followers” on his Facebook page, created in May 2009, with 44,380,858 followers and 44,624,128 likes till earlier in the week.
Trump’s page, created in April 2009, listed 27,543,545 followers, and 25,969,909 likes. Another page, in the name of President Donald J Trump, created just days before his inauguration in January 2017, has 5,388,767 followers and 3,100,731 likes. Even totaled, Trump comes up short.
But he fares much better on Twitter though. With 72.5 million followers, he easily beats Prime Minister Modi, who crossed 50 million last September and is now at 53 million.
Courtesy/Source: Hindustan Times