Posted on January 18, 2020, 12:53 PM IST
After the highly successful political campaign “Howdy Modi!” Held for PM Modi by US President Donald Trump in Houston last September, there is a similar event in works for President Trump when he visits India next month.
It has been reported that President Trump has been scheduled to visit India in February, although the dates are yet to be confirmed. The people cited in the first instance said the visit will be a stand-alone one, extend across three days, and will involve Trump visiting one Indian city apart from New Delhi. The Indian city of Ahmedabad is most likely to hold a Houston-like event with the participation of Prime Minister Modi on high cards.
Americans of Gujarati origin are likely to join the Howdy Trump show, the event is being overseen by the US President’s handlers as a good walk-up to this year’s US elections, especially given the number of Gujaratis in the US. The Indian diaspora is an important vote bloc, especially in the US and the UK. In the latter, for instance, they played a significant role with the vote almost shifting en masse from Labour to Conservatives.
Trump and Modi are expected to sign a short-term trade deal that could grant the US companies more access to Indian markets and restore to India trade benefits withdrawn last summer. They will also discuss a longer-term trade pact that could include a Free Trade Agreement.
According to the people cited in the first instance, Trump’s visit is likely to be preceded by a visit by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to finalise the trade deal.
A second person familiar with the matter said that the trade talks are headed in a positive direction and should be completed within a month or 45 days. India’s commerce minister Piyush Goyal and the USTR have been in constant touch, this person added.
Still, the two countries have made progress, officials said. “Our first priority is restoration of GSP and the remaining issues will be worked out later.”
As a welcome gift to Trump, New Delhi is expected to approve the purchase of another six Apache attack helicopters from Boeing. Indeed, on the defence front, ties between the two countries have warmed. The United States renamed its Pacific military command as the Indo-Pacific Command in a nod to the growing importance of the region and ties with India. The administration also elevated India’s status to that of a NATO ally for purposes of trade in sensitive defence-related technology.
On the security front too, ties have improved. The US has been steadfast in its support for India on the Kashmir issue at the UN Security Council where China has repeatedly tried to raise the matter.
The American president calls Prime Minister Modi a good friend, and they have indeed struck a rapport, as has been affirmed by officials on both sides.