By Lalit K Jha
Washington, Mar 17 (PTI) The US shares very strong ties with India and is in favour of free, fair and reciprocal trade with it, a senior White House official has said even as he asserted that the bilateral trade remained one aspect of the relationship where "the most friction" is experienced.
The remarks came days after US President Donald Trump publicly raised the issue of high import duty by India on motorcycles at least three times in a month and threatened a reciprocal duty on Indian imports.
"The commitment to the relationship is very strong on both sides. If you had to point to a part of the relationship where you have the most friction, it certainly would be the trade side," the official who spoke on condition of anonymity told reporters yesterday.
The official was giving a clarity on the various aspects of the American ties in South Asia, including India.
Noting that there had been concerns raised about the trade deficit with India, the official said it had come down slightly more recently, based largely on Indias imports of US energy.
"This administration is looking for a free, fair and reciprocal trade with India. And so is seeking to see some of those tariffs such as on a Harley Davidson motorcycles that are there. US is determined to find the opportunities to increase trade investment with India and does expect that there will be some sort of reciprocal dealings on the trade issues," the official said.
He noted that Indian motorcycles that are imported into the US did not have any tariffs on them.
"And so the president has been clear that hes looking for a fairly reciprocal trade with India," the official said.
Responding to a series of question, the official said that the Trump Administration was constantly talking with India on trade issues.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, who was in Washington DC this week, met US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
At the same time the official indicated that trade issues were unlikely to be part of the soon-to-be held two plus two dialogue between the two countries involving their respective foreign and defence ministers.
In the absence of the Secretary of State, the two-plus-two dialogue has now been delayed and is likely to be held later this year after Mike Pompeo is confirmed by the Senate.
"I think, its an ongoing discussion that were having on the trade issues.
"The two plus two is focused a great deal on a defence security cooperation, diplomatic political cooperation just by virtue of the Defence Minister and Defence Secretary and the External Affairs Minister and Secretary of State. The trade issues are more of an ongoing dialogue that were having with India," the official said. PTI LKJ AJR MRJ MRJ