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There is chance of US-India ‘mini trade deal’ before presidential election, says top American diplomat

There is a chance of a “mini trade deal” between the US and India even before the November 3 presidential election in the United States, a top American diplomat has said.

India and the US are negotiating a deal to iron out differences on trade issues to boost economic ties.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump have a strong personal bond and a strong commitment to do a trade deal, “so there’s a chance”, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said at the third India-US Leadership Summit organised virtually by the US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) on Monday.

Biegun was responding to a question on the prospect of a mini trade deal before the US presidential election in November.

“Do you think we’ve got a chance at a mini trade deal before the election?” former US Ambassador to India Richard Verma asked.

“I think there’s a chance. It’s going to take a little more energy,” Biegun said. “The time is short before the US elections and a lot of governments around the world are hedging a little bit. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Indian government as well,” the American diplomat said.

The US remained India’s top trading partner for the second consecutive fiscal in 2019-20. According to the data of the commerce ministry, in 2019-20, the bilateral trade between the US and India stood at USD 88.75 billion, as against USD 87.96 billion in 2018-19.

The US is one of the few countries with which India has a trade surplus. The trade gap between the countries has increased to USD 17.42 billion in 2019-20 from USD 16.86 billion in 2018-19, the data showed.

In 2018-19, the US had surpassed China to become India’s top trading partner.