Trump warns PM Modi to remove barriers from US-Ind exports

While thanking PM Modi for recent purchases of American-made equipment, US President Donald Trump warned the PM to reduce obstacles to U.S. exports. “The two countries must have a trading relationship that is fair and reciprocal and it is important that barriers be removed to US exports to India,” said Trump at a joint public appearance with Modi after the leaders met at the White House Monday.

Exports to the US provide India its largest surplus with a trading partner more than $24 billion in 2016 for a country that ran a $105 billion trade deficit that year. The US president nonetheless offered ebullient thanks for Indian interest in U.S.-made civilian aircraft and military armaments.

“Thank you very much,” Trump said as he opened the meeting with Modi and an accompanying delegation. “It always makes us feel very good, and there’s nobody makes military equipment like we make military equipment, nobody even close.”

 Modi imports include Predator drones, fighter jets and US help with India’s plans for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Trump didn’t specify what arms sales would proceed. The Indian prime minister also came seeking to persuade Trump to continue the H-1B visa program that provides a crucial pathway for information-technology companies to send skilled workers from India to the US. Neither leader addressed the visa program in their statement.

Modi met Trump after attending meetings with business leaders including Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook and Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos. India has pushed forward on its defense purchases, including unarmed Predator drones for which it had negotiated during the Obama administration. The U.S. on Friday cleared the sale of 22 Predator Guardian drones to India, Press Trust of India reported.

Earlier this month, Lockheed Martin Corp. signed a letter of intent to collaborate with Tata Advanced Systems Limited to produce F-16 Block 70 combat jets in India, according to a joint statement. Indian low-budget air carrier SpiceJet Limited agreed on June 19 to buy 40 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes in an order valued at $4.7 billion at current list prices.