Trump, Modi want US-India 'phase one' trade deal done 'promptly'

Trump, Modi want US-India 'phase one' trade deal done 'promptly'

US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have agreed to "promptly" conclude ongoing trade talks that they hope can lead to the first phase of a bilateral US-India trade deal, the White House said.

The statement follows Trump's visit to India on February 24-25, during which the US president clinched the sale of $3 billion of military equipment sale to India.

"They [Trump and Modi] agreed to promptly conclude the ongoing negotiations, which they hope can become phase one of a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement that reflects the true ambition and full potential of the bilateral commercial relations", the White House said late on Tuesday, giving no details on what would be included in the deal.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump criticised India for its high tariffs. "India is probably the highest tariff nation in the world," he said.

US-EU mini-deal

Meanwhile, the European Union sees a chance to strike a mini-deal to help ease trade tensions with the United States, the bloc's trade chief told the Financial Times on Wednesday.

EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said a decision by Washington to delay until March 18 a hike on US tariffs on Airbus from 10 per cent to 15 per cent was "a signal that the US [is] willing to give this window of opportunity a chance".

The US decision followed a comment by Trump that it was time to talk "very seriously" about an overarching trade agreement.

Britain, too

Also, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will meet Britain's trade minister Liz Truss this week, British government officials said, as the two allies gear up for post-Brexit trade talks that could prove contentious.

His meeting with Truss was confirmed by a spokeswoman at the British embassy in Washington. A USTR spokesman did not respond to a query about Lighthizer's British itinerary.

Truss has said that Britain would seek far-reaching reductions in US tariffs in trade talks that would run alongside negotiations over its future relationship with the EU.