During his visit to the United States in September 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited President Donald Trump and his family to India.
“Mr. President Trump I want you to come to India, with your family. Our friendship will take our shared dreams and our vibrant future to new heights,” said Modi during the public meeting “Howdy Modi” at Houston.
Trump’s first state visit to India is expected to take place sometime in February but the timing of his trip will depend on the duration and outcome of ongoing impeachment proceedings against him in the US Congress, media reports said.
Officials in New Delhi and Washington were reported to be discussing likely dates for Trump’s visit, tentatively projected to take place in the second half of February.
“Both sides are in touch to work out mutually convenient dates for the visit,” The Hindustan Times quoted an Indian government official as saying on condition of anonymity. The White House was yet to comment on the matter, the daily added.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi undertook two visits to the US in June 2017 and September 2019 and on both occasions had extended invitations to President Trump to visit India. In October 2018, he had a telephonic conversation with President Trump during which the latter was invited to be the chief guest at India’s 2019 Republic Day celebrations.
The White House did not accept the invitation citing scheduling constraints and Trump’s need to deliver his annual State of the Union address to the US Congress.
In December 2019, on the sidelines of the India-US 2+2 Dialogue, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar met President Trump at the White House and renewed Modi’s invitation to him to visit India.
The proposed visit of the US President is being linked to progress made in deadlocked bilateral trade talks., with President Donald Trump often complaining about the high tariffs imposed on American products by New Delhi.
The differences came to such a pass that Washington terminated India's designation as beneficiary developing country under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme on 5 June last year, which allowed New Delhi to export $ 5.7 billion worth of duty-free goods in 2017. India imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products, including almonds and apples.
The US also wanted greater market access for its farm and manufacturing products, dairy items and medical devices, and a cut on import duties on some Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products.
Over the past year, commerce ministers of both sides - Piyush Goyal (India) and Wilbur Ross (US) - have had several rounds of talks to resolve these issues, the latest taking place in October 2019.
In December, Mukesh Aghi, President and CEO of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) said that outstanding trade issues between New Delhi and Washington were moving towards a resolution.
Aghi then said that he expected both sides to conclude a short term trade deal during the first quarter of 2020, while a more ambitious longer-term pact with a focus on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) could be signed at a later date.
India and the United States share more than 50 bilateral dialogue mechanisms which focus on cooperation on a range of issues, including strategic, defence and internal security, civil nuclear, economic and commercial, agriculture, energy and climate change.
US bilateral trade with India was pegged at $160 billion in 2019-20 up from $142 billion in 2018-19. According to Reserve Bank of India data, Indian Foreign Direct Investment in the US stood at $ 12.59 billion in 2018-19 overall, and reached $2.8 million in April-June 2019.