Trump’s India visit could ease friction with U.S.
February 24, 2020 - Donald Trump’s two-day trip to India is his first as president to one of the world’s largest economies -- a country Washington is trying to cultivate as a strategic counterweight to an increasingly assertive China.
But India’s growing protectionism, and its decision to purchase a $5.5bn Russian S-400 missile shield system, have led to friction with Washington.
Last June, the U.S. stripped India of duty-free access for $5.6bn of exports to the U.S.. India responded by slamming tariffs as high as 120% on 28 U.S. products.
The U.S. is India’s single largest trading partner. In 2018, India’s exports of goods and services to the U.S. stood at $83.9 billion, while imports were $58.7 billion. India had a trade surplus of $25.2bn.
A further bone of contention is oil. India is under U.S. pressure to stop the purchase of Venezuelan oil – India is the top destination for Venezuela’s oil, taking 38.5% of exports from the state-run company PDVSA’s 951,903 barrels per day of crude and refined products in January.
The clampdown on H-1B U.S. visas has also hit Indian IT companies - Indian citizens receive over 70 per cent of American H-1B visas.
Washington still has plans to sell military hardware to New Delhi. The Trump administration has approved the $1.9bn sale of a U.S. integrated air defence weapons system, and U.S. approval has also been granted for the purchase of Lockheed Martin’s anti-submarine Seahawk naval helicopters worth $2.6 billion.