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'Tariff King' India Wants Immediate Trade Talks With US to Keep Me Happy, Says Donald Trump

Trump’s statement comes a day after he said India sought a trade deal with the US because it did not want him to impose tariffs on their products.

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Updated:October 2, 2018, 12:03 AM IST
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'Tariff King' India Wants Immediate Trade Talks With US to Keep Me Happy, Says Donald Trump
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Donald Trump. (File image)
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US President Donald Trump on Monday said India wants to start trade talks with the United States "immediately" as it wants to keep him happy.

Trump described India as the “tariff king”, reiterating his allegations that New Delhi has a high tariff rate on various American products.

Trump's charges against the alleged high Indian tariffs, for the second time in a few days, came during his White House news conference where he announced a new trade deal with neighbouring Mexico and Canada.

As he announced the key elements of the US-Mexico and Canada Agreement or USMCA, Trump listed out the trade deals that are under negotiations, including with Japan, European Union, China and India.

He alleged that India puts "tremendously high tariffs" on American products and raked up the issue of Harley Davidson motorcycles. "When we send Harley Davidson motorcycle, and other things to India, they charge us very, very high tariffs. I have spoken to Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and he is going to reduce them substantially," he said.

Trump said the relationship with both India as well as the country's Prime Minister Modi "is great". He, however, rued that no one from the previous regimes had ever spoken with Indians.

"Nobody ever spoke to these people (Indians). He (Modi) said nobody ever spoke to me. I am not trying to be overly dramatic. We have had presidents of the United States and (US) Trade Representatives, they never spoke to India. Brazil is another one,” Trump said, adding that “they charge us whatever they want”.

Noting that the tariff on motorcycles was 100 per cent, the President said it was like a barrier. India has already reduced it substantially, but it is still too high, Trump said, adding that who is going to buy it as it costs so much.

After he warned against imposing similar tariffs on import of Indian products, Trump said Indians called him that they want to have a trade deal with the US. “They called us and they say, 'We want to start negotiations immediately’.”

When US officials asked Indians why they want to have a trade deal with America, Indian officials told them that they want to keep the US President happy, Trump told reporters.

Referring to a conversation that US Trade Representatives Robert Lighthizer had with the Indian officials, Trump said: "When Bob Lighthizer said, 'What happened? He would never do this.' They said, 'No, we want to keep your president happy.' Isn't that nice? Isn't that nice? It's true. They have to keep us happy, because they understand that we're wise to what's been happening," Trump claimed.

Trump’s statement comes a day after he said India sought a trade deal with the US because it did not want him to impose tariffs on their products. The President’s remarks, for the second time in recent weeks, come days after Assistant US Trade Representative Mark Linscott returned from India where he had a detailed discussion with senior Indian officials on bilateral trade and a possible trade deal between the two countries.

Trump often accuses India of imposing 100 per cent tariffs on American products. "We have a country, take India. Good relationship. They want to make a deal now because they don't want me to do what I'm going to do, what I have to. So, they (Indians) call us. They didn't want to make a deal with anybody else," he said.

Trump referred to India in the context of his repeated allegation that other countries have been taking advantage of America in the past.

Early this month, Trump had said India wanted a trade deal with the US despite the US administration's tough stance on the issue. "Take India. You talk about free trade. So, let's say they (Indians) charge us 60 per cent tariff on a product. And for the same product when they send it in (America), we charge them nothing. So now I want to charge them 25 per cent or 20 or 10 or something," Trump said.

"What do you think? That's not free trade. We don't like it. I said, where are these people coming from? So, think of it. Where are they coming from? You have no idea how difficult it is. Where are they coming?" Trump said on Saturday referring to the conversations he is having with India.
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