United States President Donald Trump on Thursday said that his country “may make a tremendous deal” with India. The president is expected to travel to at least two Indian cities – Ahmedabad and New Delhi – between February 24 and February 25.

“But we’re going to India, and we may make a tremendous deal there, or maybe we’ll slow it down,” Trump said during the commencement address at an event. “We’ll do it after the [US presidential] 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. Whether people like it or not, we’re putting America first.”

A report by United States Congress’ think tank Congressional Research Service, released on February 14, noted that the trading relationship between the two countries is “more consequential for India”. It said that in 2018, the US was India’s second-largest goods export market with a 16.0% share with the European Union in first place (17.8%). The US was also the third largest goods import supplier (6.3%) after China (14.6%) and the European Union 28 (10.2%) in the same year.

“The Trump administration takes issue with the US trade deficit with India, and has criticised India for a range of ‘unfair’ trading practices”, the report said. “Indian Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi’s first term fell short of many observers’ expectations, as India did not move forward with anticipated market opening reforms, and instead increased tariffs and trade restrictions.”

It added that Modi’s “strong electoral mandate” could empower the India administration to push its reform agenda with renewed efforts. The report also claimed that slowing economic growth in the country caused concerns about its business environment.

Rick Rossow, Wadhwani Chair in United States-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank said the US had been pretty clear on the arrangements it wants from India, and it was up to New Delhi to take those steps, reported PTI. “The list of US asks has been pretty static all throughout,” he said. Not to say that any of these things are easy for India to do, but the United States to my knowledge didn’t change the goalposts just because we now consider India to be a middle-income country.”

Meanwhile, India on Thursday said the “Namaste Trump” event to welcome Trump in Ahmedabad will be similar to the “Howdy Modi” event held in Houston last year to honour Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar responded to Trump’s remarks that the US is “not treated very well by India”, and said that it need to be viewed in terms of balance of trade.

Kumar added that India has made efforts to address the concerns of United States. “US is sixth largest source of crude oil imports,” the spokesperson said. “Steps taken will bridge trade deficit.”

Trump will land in Ahmedabad around noon on February 24 and attend the event at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, the world’s biggest cricket stadium. The US president will address a joint event with Modi at the stadium.

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With no trade deal on the cards, is the Trump visit to India just payback for ‘Howdy Modi’?