Following Donald Trump's visit to India, Bernardine Adkins spoke to BBC World News about the possibility of a US-India trade deal and future issues that need to be considered. 


Interviewer: There are huge issues between the two of them. It's a complicated relationship, as these things often are. One of these issues is the trade deficit - India exports hugely more to the US than it buys. Trump wants to know why aren't they buying American stuff.

Last June, the two sides really fell out because the US excluded India from this very preferential trading regime. Whereby certain emerging economies are allowed to import good into the US duty-free. India was excluded from that. There's other issues around data storage, data privacy, the price that India pays for medical equipment - it's a complicated relationship. Which is why we're probably not going to get this trade deal. Which is what my guest is going to be talking to me about - I'm going to slowly trundle my way to her. 

Bernardine - she is a partner at a law firm specialising in trade and competition - talking us through this complicated yet mutually beneficial relationship. Or is it? Bernardine, wonderful to talk to you. So we're not going to get this trading agreement but we never were, were we realistically out of this visit?

Bernardine Adkins: Realistically no. As you said, two massive complex economies and it would take years and years and an awful lot of give and take on both sides to finalise a comprehensive trade agreement. That was really never on the socks.

Interviewer: Yeah - I ran through with Lucy there - skirted over rather - some of the underlying issues between the two anything you want to expand on?

Bernardine: Well the one I see coming to the forefront will be in June of this year round digital tax. Basically imposing tariffs where you have digital movements of software or eBooks. A lot of India's money is made with manufacturing but the rise of digital - they will be losing out on tariffs for example 3D printing. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) as moratorium on imposing tax on digital movements. Which is a good thing as it has enabled these digital flows but this expires in June this year. India was one of the countries not so keen on such a moratorium so that is possibly going to be an areas of difficulty as we move on. 

Interviewer: Interesting, one area where we are going to see money exchange between India and the US is in the region of military hardware - that's the one concrete deal to come out of this. We're seeing this real pivot on India's part away from Russia towards the US. 

Bernardine: Yes, a lot of this is transactionalised. Trump has really ripped up the rulebook.

Interviewer: He's a transactional president isn't he?

Bernardine: "You be good to me, I'll be good to you". India in the recent past has purchased hardware from Russia and now it is doing so from America. The deal was in the stocks, it was agreed and now it has been announced and that is where India is being good to Donald Trump.

Interviewer: Another area that Lucy was just referencing there was the optics of this visit - they have been very impressive haven't they? But also clever and interesting in terms of where Trump has positioned himself and the words he has been using. 

Bernardine: Yes, both are amazing marketeers, great brand spokesmen and nothing is done for nothing. Yes of course, back in September we had the "howdy, Modi" in Houston the rally there. And now we have got the namaste Trump rally in India. What I find really interesting, and nother is done without reason, is Trump went to the residence of Mahatma Gandhi and also the speech at the rally Donald Trump mentioned Gandhi and the civil march. Which is reminding people that both India and America have something in common - a post-colonial past. Since 1947 India is coming out of that and really feeling it's pride and it's strength. It's a reminder of that past. 

Interviewer: As you say, both of these men acutely aware of their huge audiences. 

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