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Mike Pompeo promises better relations with India, but plays down trade spat

Reuters/ 27 Jun 19 | 08:40 AM

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to reduce heightened trade tension with India on Wednesday, promising a renewed focus on negotiating better ties, but giving few specifics of how they would overcome disputes over trade and investment.


Pompeo’s India visit comes as the two countries grapple with issues ranging from access to Indian markets for American firms to New Delhi’s demand for foreign companies to store Indian data in the country, and exports of steel and aluminium to the US

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The two nations are “friends who can help each other all around the world," Pompeo told a joint news conference with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar after they met.


The current differences were expressed “in the spirit of friendship", he added. However, any progress on trade would probably be announced at an expected meeting of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump at a Group of 20 (G20) summit in Japan this week, economic and political analysts said.

ALSO READ: Jaishankar, Pompeo hold talks; Russia, terrorism, H-1B visas in focus


“If there is going to be some kind announcement on trade, it will come at a Trump-Modi meeting," said Neelam Deo, founder of the Gateway House think tank in the financial capital of Mumbai.


TRADE SPAT

The trade disputes have led to higher tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance.


In particular, the sudden introduction of new e-commerce rules for foreign investors in February angered the Americans because it showed New Delhi was prepared to move the goalposts to hurt two of the largest US companies, discount retailer Walmart, and Amazon.com Inc.


Walmart last year invested $16 billion to buy control of Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart. Just days before Pompeo’s visit, India slapped higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products following Washington’s withdrawal of key trade privileges for New Delhi.


Jaishankar, a former Indian ambassador to the United States, played down the spat on Wednesday.

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