NEW DELHI: While preparations are in full swing to make President Donald Trump's forthcoming visit to the country a huge success, BJP's estranged former NDA ally Shiv Sena said on Saturday (February 15, 2020) that the United States Administration has landed India in big crisis by removing it from the list of developing countries.
In a fiery editorial in its mouthpiece 'Saamana', the Maharashtra-based party mentioned that the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has recently taken India off the developing country list ahead of President Trump's visit, which is not a good development.
"The Trump Administration has thrown a 'googly'. India is now no more a developing country but a developed nation. This is a big crisis for India. India is miles away from the status of developed countries on parameters like education, health, employment, cleanliness and poverty alleviation," the Saamana editorial stated.
Expressing further concerns, the editorial said, ''India is not a developed country and now it will no more avail the benefits that a developing nation gets.'' Taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uddhav Thackeray-led party said that ''he will find a way out and will convert the bitter gourd sent by Trump into a sweet."
"This bitter gourd adversely affecting India's global trade prospects has come at a time when the Centre and the Gujarat government are making full efforts for Donald Trump's visit and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is himself monitoring it," the Saamana editorial added.
It may be noted that ahead of Trump's scheduled India visit on February 24 and 25, the US removed India from the list of developing countries.
The USTR office has classified India as a developed economy, thus ineligible for benefits given by Washington to developing countries.
This would be President's first bilateral visit in the third decade of 21st century and also the first after his acquittal by the Senate in the impeachment trial.
In a tweet on Saturday, Trump has said that he is looking forward to his first visit to India later this month and signalled his willingness to sign a trade agreement with New Delhi "if we can make the right deal".
Trump is expected to get a roaring welcome by lakhs of people when he arrives in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
He along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to deliver a historic speech in front of hundreds and thousands of people at the newly build Motera stadium, the largest cricket stadium of the world.
The two countries are negotiating a trade package to iron out differences and promote two-way commerce. An official in New Delhi indicated the two countries are engaged in hectic parleys for a proposed trade deal ahead of Trump's visit. But as of now, there is no clarity if the trade pact will be signed during Trump's visit, the official added.
Multiple rounds of talks have taken place between Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in the past few weeks over the telephone. India is demanding exemption from high duties imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminium products, resumption of export benefits to certain domestic products under their Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), greater market access for its products from sectors including agriculture, automobile, auto components and engineering.
The US, on the other hand, wants greater market access for its farm and manufacturing products, dairy items and medical devices, and cut on import duties on some ICT products. It has also raised concerns over high-trade deficit with India, which was $16.9 billion in 2018-19.
(With Agency Inputs)