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India wants trade deal with US primarily to keep me happy: Donald Trump

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Washington, Oct 1: India wants to start trade talks with the US "immediately", US President Donald Trump said today at a press conference to announce a trade deal struck between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Donald Trump

Describing the south Asian country as the "tariff king," the president at the White House said that India "called us and they say, 'We want to start negotiations immediately," reported news agency AFP.

Trump's remarks came days after Assistant US Trade Representative Mark Linscott returned from India where he had detailed discussion with senior Indian officials on bilateral trade and a possible trade deal between the two countries.

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He alleged that India puts "tremendously high tariffs" on American products and raked up the issue of Harley Davidson motorcycles.

"When we send Harley Davidson motorcycle, and other things to India, they charge us very very high tariffs. I have spoken to Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and he is going to reduce them substantially," he said.

Trump said the relationship with both India as well as the country's Prime Minister Modi "is great".

He, however, rued that no one from the previous regimes had ever spoken with the Indians.

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"No body ever spoke to these people (Indians). He (Modi) said, no body ever spoke to me. I am not trying to be overly dramatic. We have had presidents of the United States and (US) Trade Representatives, they never spoke to India. Brazil is another one," Trump said, adding that "they charge us whatever they want".

Noting that the tariff on motorcycles was 100 per cent, the president said it was like a barrier.

India has already reduced it substantially, but it is still too high, Trump said, adding that who is going to buy it as it costs so much.

He also warned against imposing similar tariffs on import of Indian products.

Trump said India wanted to have a trade deal with the US and the negotiations are being carried out by the US Trade Representatives Robert Lighthizer.

When US officials asked Indians why they want to have a trade deal with America, Indian officials told them that they want to keep the US President happy, Trump told reporters.

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"India, which is the tariff king, they called us and they said, 'we want to start negotiations immediately'," Trump said.

Thereafter, he referred to a conversation that Lighthizer had with the Indian officials.

"When Bob Lighthizer said, 'What happened? He would never do this.' They said, 'No, we want to keep your president happy.' Isn't that nice? Isn't that nice? It's true. They have to keep us happy, because they understand that we're wise to what's been happening," Trump claimed.

"India charges tariffs of 100 per cent, and then if we want to put a tariff of 25 per cent on, people will call from Congress, 'But that's not free trade.' And I'd look back to people and say, 'Where do these people come from? Where do they come from?'" Trump said.

"So because of the power of tariffs and the power that we have with tariffs, we, in many cases, won't even have to use them. That's how powerful they are, and how good they are. But in many cases, we're not going to have to use them," he added.

Last month, Trump had said India wanted a trade deal with the US despite the US administration's tough stance on the issue.

"Take India. You talk about free trade. So, let's say they (Indians) charge us 60 per cent tariff on a product. And for the same product when they send it in (America), we charge them nothing. So now I want to charge them 25 per cent or 20 or 10 or something," he had said.

The US is already fighting a major trade battle with China, with both imposing tariffs and counter-tariffs on a range of high-volume goods.

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