India and the United States are readying at least five pacts on homeland security, trade facilitation and intellectual property rights ahead of the bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump in New Delhi on February 25.
While the pact on homeland security will tackle counter-terrorism cooperation, the trade facilitation pact will look at providing a single-window system for US firms wanting to do business in India.
The two sides will also issue a joint statement, which will put significant emphasis on counter-terrorism, Indo-Pacific, space and nuclear issues.
Sources said while 8-10 pacts are under “active consideration”, about half-a-dozen are expected to be signed and announced during Trump’s visit.
Both sides have indicated that a major trade agreement seems unlikely.
“We have been engaging with the US on trade talks for some time. We hope to reach an understanding with an outcome that strikes the right balance for both sides. We do not want to rush into a deal as the issues involved are complicated, with many decisions potentially having real impact on people’s lives and long-term economic consequences. We do not want to create artificial deadlines,” the Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, said.
On the broader aspects of trade ties, he said: “The India-US relationship is progressing from strength to strength. Our trade has already been growing at more than 10% per annum for the past two years, our trade deficit has been declining steadily. Our trade will become even more balanced with increasing imports of US oil and gas, and purchase of large numbers of civil aircraft by India over the next few years. The US is now our sixth largest source of crude oil imports, while we have become the US’s fourth largest customer of crude oil.”
The MEA spokesperson said India and the US have a “long history” of cooperation in civil space arena, including earth observation, satellite navigation and space exploration. There is a Joint Working Group to regularly review cooperation and identify new areas. “Currently, our sides are cooperating in Mars exploration, heliophysics and human spaceflight. On the commercial front, ISRO has launched 209 satellites from US, on-board PSLV, as co-passengers,” he said.
He said ISRO and NASA are together building a microwave remote sensing satellite with dual frequency (L and S band) Synthetic Aperture Radar. This joint mission, the world’s first dual frequency SAR satellite, is planned for launch in 2022. “ISRO is also working with US government agencies for cooperation in safety of space flight through exchange of situational awareness information,” he said.
On nuclear cooperation with the US, he said Westinghouse and NPCIL are in talks to build six 1100 MW reactors at Kovvada, Andhra Pradesh. “Following resolution of Westinghouse’s bankruptcy issues, the two sides are in discussions regarding the division of responsibility of the work. NPCIL has visited the US reference plant to understand Westinghouse’s modular construction methodology,” he said.
Donald Trump’s India itinerary: All in just 36 hrs
# Trumps land around noon in Ahmedabad
# PM likely to receive them; roadshow to Motera stadium
# Modi, Trump to address ‘Namaste Trump’
# Trumps to leave for Agra 3.30 pm, visit Taj Mahal, go to Delhi
# Rashtrapati Bhavan reception at 10 am
# Visit to Rajghat
# Modi-Trump talks at Hyderabad House, lunch and press statements
# Meeting with business leaders
# Banquet hosted by President Kovind
# Departure from Delhi
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