United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said he differed with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on the current impasse in trade relations between the two countries but added that the difference should be taken “in the spirit of friendship”, News18 reported. Pompeo said he was hopeful of resolving the matter.
Before leaving the United States, the secretary of state had raised concerns about tariffs imposed by India on 28 US products after the US withdrew its trade privileges. “I do hope, and remain open – and we remain open to dialogue, and hope that our friends in India will drop their trade barriers and trust in the competitiveness of their own companies, their own businesses, their own people, and private sector companies,” he had added.
Earlier this month, United States President Donald Trump had said India’s tariff on American motorcycles was too high and not acceptable to him. His comments came despite India reducing the tariff from 100% to 50%. In March, Trump had claimed that India charges America very high tariffs on exports, and called for a reciprocal tax.
In February 2018, India had slashed the customs duty on imported motorcycles such as those of Harley Davidson and Triumph after Trump threatened to impose retaliatory taxes. India issued an order in June 2018 to raise import taxes on a number of US items after Washington refused to exempt it from higher steel and aluminium tariffs.
Jaishankar said he was confident of the ability of the two governments to address their differences, and convinced of the solid nature of the bilateral ties. However, the minister added that there was always more work to be done in such bilateral relations. “All relationships are work in progress,” he told the media.
The two leaders also discussed recent tensions between the US and Iran, and an American law called the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, under which Washington imposes sanctions on countries dealing with Russian defence and intelligence sectors. India has repeatedly sought waivers from sanctions for its agreement with Russia for the S-400 Triumpf missile systems. Earlier this month, the Trump administration asked Turkey to abandon its plan to buy Russian air missiles by July 31, or risk its pilots from being removed from training for American F-35 fighter jets.
“We have many relationships with many countries, many of them are of some standing,” Jaishankar said when asked about CAATSA. “They have a history. We will do what is in our national interest.”
Pompeo said there are no allies with whom the US does not have problems that require to be worked out. “We have endeavoured to make sure that our countries can provide security for itself, want India to be able to do that too,” he added, according to ANI. “I see the two issues as real opportunities, I know that we can work together and provide a foundation for the relationship.”
Asked about the recent tensions with Iran, the secretary of state alleged Iran was the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism and Indians have suffered from terror around the world. “We have a shared understanding of threat and a common purpose to ensure that we can keep energy at right prices and deter this threat,” he added.
Jaishankar said India has a certain perspective on Iran. “US secretary of state shared with me the American concerns on Iran,” he added. “Both of us certainly came out much better informed of each other’s concerns in that regard.”
Earlier in the day, Pompeo met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The American leader announced that Modi would meet Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in the Japanese city of Osaka later this week.