Vastavam web: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump are “deal-makers” who are willing to break with past practice to accomplish things, a renowned expert on India and Asia has said.He also suggested the two leaders during their first meeting next week should focus on transforming bilateral economic relations. Bouton, who is President Emeritus of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, described economic relations between the two nations as the “weakest” as compared to the political and security pillars of bilateral cooperation.Bouton had last month authored a comprehensive ASPI paper ‘The Trump Administration’s India Opportunity’, in which he called for the US administration to move decisively and engage Modi’s government to deepen cooperation and manage potential disputes.
In his paper, Bouton, a nationally known expert on India and Asia, had noted that total US trade with India now exceeds 100 billion dollars. Although Indian exports increased rapidly over the last 15 years, Indian goods exports to the United States accounted for only 2.1 per cent of total US goods imports in 2016.
The total US goods trade deficit with India (USD 24 billion) in 2016 accounted for less than 5 per cent of the total US trade deficit.Modi s visit to the US also comes against the backdrop of concerns among Indian IT professionals and outsourcing firms over the H1-B visa regime amid the Trump administration s focus to undertake immigration reform. Bouton however suggested that the H1 B visa issue may not rank high among the priority areas for the Modi-Trump meeting.
“H1-B is a very important issue. However, frankly in the big scheme of things that should be the focus of this meeting, it does not rank so highly. The best we can hope for is that the administration decides what stance it really will finally take on H1-B. It should proceed cautiously and do so in consultation with its key partners, most especially India, on the H1B issue,” he said.