President Donald Trump announced Monday that the US will sign deals to sell the “absolute finest, state-of-the-art military helicopters” and other defence equipment to India worth $3 billion.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi and First Lady Melania Trump on the stage at the Motera stadium, Trump also called Modi a “very tough negotiator” and said he is optimistic that they are in the “early stages of discussion” for an “incredible” trade deal.
“Over the course of my visit, Prime Minister Modi and I will also discuss our efforts to expand the economic ties between our two countries. We will be making very, very major — among the biggest ever made — trade deals,” he said.
“We are in the early stages of discussion for an incredible trade agreement to reduce barriers of investment between the United States and India. And I am optimistic that, working together, the Prime Minister and I can reach a fantastic deal that’s good and even great for both of our countries,” he said. “Except that he’s a very tough negotiator,” he added, laughing.
Defence deals with the US is a win-win for both sides. While India is able to diversify its defence acquisition — away from dependence on legacy Russian equipment — the US President can leverage this to create jobs in America. This deal could turn out to be the main takeaway of the visit.
On defence cooperation, the US President said: “As we continue to build our defence cooperation, the United States looks forward to providing India with some of the best and most feared military equipment on the planet. We make the greatest weapons ever made: airplanes, missiles, rockets, ships. We make the best. And we’re dealing now with India. But this includes advanced air defence systems, and armed and unarmed aerial vehicles.”
“And I am pleased to announce that, tomorrow, our representatives will sign deals to sell over $3 billion in the absolute finest, state-of-the-art military helicopters and other equipment to the Indian armed forces,” he said, adding that the US should be India’s premier defence partner.
“Together, we will defend our sovereignty, security, and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific region for our children and for many, many generations to come,” he said, with an eye on an assertive China.
Earlier, Trump said that since his inauguration as US President in January 2017, commerce between the two countries has increased by more than 40 per cent. India is now a major market for American exports, and the US is India’s largest export market, he said.
“A booming America is a great thing for India and it’s great for the world. And that’s why we’re so happy to announce that we have the greatest economy ever in the history of the United States. In America, we have proven that the best way to attract jobs and opportunity is to reduce burdens on business, knock down barriers to new investment, and eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy, red tape, regulation, and taxes,” Trump said.
“Prime Minister Modi has already made significant reforms here in your country, as you very well know. The world looks forward to even more rapid improvement to India’s business climate under his leadership. He wants to do it, and he’s doing it at a record pace,” he said.
Trump also recalled that two years ago, Modi had warmly welcomed his daughter Ivanka Trump to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad.