India’s Jaishankar says trade deal with U.S. ‘not that easy’

India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar attends a news conference after a meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, August 28, 2019. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said that a trade deal with the U.S. is “not that easy,” but trade ministers from both sides were trying to iron out their differences.

“It’s a fairly complicated set of issues because you are really looking at trying to clear up issues.” Jaishankar said Friday, speaking at the India Economic Summit organized by the World Economic Forum in New Delhi. “I guess if they are taking a little time they would be justified in doing so.”

Jaishankar’s remarks come as U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and his Indian counterpart Piyush Goyal are holding talks in the Indian capital.

On Thursday (Oct. 3, 2019) Ross had said that there was no structural reason a U.S.-India trade deal could not be done soon.

“Neither government said there would be a trade deal in five minutes. That was just speculation,” Ross said. “We do think that there’s no structural reason why there can’t be one pretty quickly.”

Trade tensions between India and the U.S. have been ongoing for a while now with U.S. President Donald Trump accusing India of charging higher duty on American imports, particularly tariffs as high as 100% on Harley-Davidson Inc. motorcycles. However, New Delhi and Washington have been working to sort out trade issues, including a possible withdrawal of some disputes from the World Trade Organization. The bilateral trade between the two countries stands close to $90 billion.

There had been speculation that a trade agreement would be hammered out while Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in the U.S. last week but that didn’t happen.

Ending trade frictions could help India boost exports and cushion an economic slowdown caused by a collapse in domestic consumption.

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