Imports from U.S. to grow, trade Ministers to meet soon

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday informed U.S. President Donald Trump that India planned to further step up imports, including of oil, from the U.S. and an estimated $4 billion of imports were already “in the pipeline”.

The Modi-Trump meeting assumes significance in the wake of the strain in the bilateral relationship on trade and economic issues.

Meeting on the sidelines of the G7 summit here, the two leaders agreed that preferably before the Prime Minister visited the U.S. in September, the Commerce Ministers of the two countries would discuss a whole range of trade issues.

Briefing presspersons on the 40-minute meeting between Mr. Modi and Mr. Trump, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal was supposed to go to Washington earlier, but it did not happen.

Mr. Trump had previously described India as a “tariff king”. Before meeting Mr. Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, he had demanded that India withdraw “very high” tariffs on U.S. goods.

“The Prime Minister spoke of the importance of energy imports from the U.S…,” Mr. Gokhale said.

He noted that Mr. Modi would travel to Houston, America’s energy capital, on September 22, and was expected to have a meeting with the CEOs of top U.S. energy companies. The objectives were to see how India could import more oil and how the country could invest in the U.S. energy sector.

Mr. Gokhale said Mr. Trump spoke warmly of the fact that India had become a major energy importer. The President indicated that he was willing to send top administration officials to Houston to ensure that the bilateral energy relationship made progress.