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Will meet Modi in France, do best on Kashmir: Donald Trump

After speaking with the leaders of India and Pakistan and urging them to reduce tensions over Kashmir, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he would be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the weekend at the G7 in France, and he would do his best to mediate in the issue.

Addressing reporters in the White House, President Trump said: “Kashmir is a very complicated place. You have the Hindus, and you have the Muslims, and I wouldn”t say they get along so great. And that”s what you have right now.”

“And you have millions of people who want to be ruled by others, and maybe on both sides, and you have two countries that haven”t gotten along in a long time.

“And frankly it”s a very explosive situation. I spoke to Prime Minister Khan, and yesterday I spoke to PM Modi; and they are both friends of mine, and they are great people, they”re great people. And they love their countries, and they are in a very tough situation.

“Kashmir is a very tough situation, and this has been going on for decades, and decades; shooting, and I don”t mean shooting like shooting a rifle, but major shooting of howitzers, of heavy arms, and this has been going on for a long, long period of time.

“But I get along really well with both of them, As you know Prime Minister Khan was here just recently.

“And I”m going to meet Prime Minister Modi, I will be with PM Modi over the weekend, in France.

“And I think we”re helping the situation, but there”s tremendous problems between the two countries. And I will do the best I can to mediate or do something,” he said.

On Monday, Trump spoke on the phone with his “two good friends” Prime Ministers Narendra Modi of India and Pakistan”s Imran Khan and urged them to work towards reducing tensions over Kashmir. He also advised Pakistan to “moderate its rhetoric with India” over Kashmir.

“Spoke to my two good friends, Prime Minister Modi of India, and Prime Minister Khan of Pakistan, regarding Trade, Strategic Partnerships and, most importantly, for India and Pakistan to work towards reducing tensions in Kashmir. A tough situation, but good conversations!,” he tweeted.

Earlier, Trump first called up Modi on Monday during which they held a 30-minute talk.

Prime Minister Modi conveyed that “extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence by certain leaders in the region was not conducive to peace”, in a reference to the Pakistani leadership spewing anti-India venom over the Kashmir issue.

A White House readout of his talk with Imran Khan said, “PresidentATrumpAspoke by telephone with Imran Khan to discuss the need to reduce tensions and moderate rhetoric with India over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Trump reaffirmed the need to avoid escalation of the situation, and urged restraint on both sides. The two leaders also agreed to work together to strengthen United States-Pakistan economic and trade cooperation.”

(IANS)

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India

Wake up and call Trump’s bluff: Congress to Narendra Modi

Continuing its tirade over US President Donald Trump’s claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked him to mediate in the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan, the Congress on Tuesday dared Modi to wake up and call the latter’s bluff.

“Now, ‘Whitehouse’ puts up POTUS’ (Donald Trump) assertion in ‘black and white’ that Prime Minister Modi asked him to ‘mediate on Kashmir’.

“When will our Prime Minister ‘wake up’ and call the bluff if President Trump is lying? Or did Prime Minister Modi ask POTUS (Donald Trump) to mediate?” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a tweet .

Addressing a press conference on Monday before his meeting with visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in the White House, Trump said: “I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago, and we talked about the subject. And he actually said, ‘would you like to be a mediator, or arbitrator’, and I said ‘where?’, and he said ‘Kashmir’, because this has been going on for many, many years. I was surprised for how long it has been going on,” to which Imran Khan interjected to say, “70 years”.

“I think they (India) would like to see it resolved, and I think you (Pakistan) would like to see it resolved. And if I can help, I would love to be mediator,” the US President said.

The Central government has, however, rebuffed Trump’s claim, saying that Modi had never made such a request to him, and stressed that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are “discussed only bilaterally”.

“We have seen the US President’s remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India and Pakistan, on the Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US President,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.

“It has been India’s consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross-border terrorism. The Shimla Agreement & the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally,” he said.

Surjewala also questioned Prime Minister’s silence over the claim. “Reiteration of time-tested line on no mediation on Kashmir is welcome. POTUS (Donald Trump) remarks relate to a meeting between him and Prime Minister Modi, wherein our Prime Minister had asked him to mediate. Why is Prime Minister mum on what transpired between the two heads of states, more so when it affects our sovereignty?” he asked.

(IANS)

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India

G20: Ivanka Trump, calls to prioritize women empowerment

Ivanka Trump, US President Donald Trump’s daughter and senior White House adviser, on Saturday called on G20 leaders to prioritize women’s empowerment, citing the benefits female participation in the workforce will have on the global economy.

“We believe that women’s inclusion in the economy is not solely a social justice issue, which of course it is. It’s also smart economic and defence policy,” Ivanka Trump said at an event here on the sidelines of the ongoing G20 Summit.

She said that if women participated in labour markets on an equal footing to men, global annual GDP could rise between $12 trillion and $28 trillion by 2025, reports Kyodo News Agency.

She also said research shows that states with higher female participation are less likely to use violence or military force to resolve international conflict.

“We must continue to prioritize women’s economic empowerment and place it at the very heart of the G20 agenda,” the adviser to the US President said. “This is a legacy worth fighting for and a future we can be proud to leave to our children.”

During the event, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received reports on activities and recommendations on the issue from groups such as a UN entity dedicated to gender equality and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Abe said the G20 will establish a follow-up system to review at the leaders’ level the steps taken by members to achieve a goal agreed in 2014 of reducing the gender gap in labour force participation by 25 per cent by 2025.

The event was held to add momentum to women’s empowerment, seen as essential for achieving sustainable economic growth, according to the Japanese government.

(IANS)

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World

Modi conveys India’s concerns over Iran issue to Trump

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday conveyed to US President Donald Trump concerns over tensions in the Persian Gulf related to Iran, saying “instability” in the region affects India in “many ways” besides the energy aspect.

The two leaders agreed that they and their officials will continuously remain in touch to ensure that the region remains stable, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said at a media briefing.

The Iran issue, along with 5G, trade and defence relations, was raised by Modi with Trump during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit here.

“So far as Iran was concerned, the Prime Minister outlined our energy concerns as well as our concerns regarding peace and stability in the region,” the Foreign Secretary said.

“On Iran, the primary focus was how we ensure stability in that region. It is that instability affects us in many ways, not just in terms our energy needs but in terms of the very large diaspora that we have in the Gulf — eight million Indians in the Gulf region and economic interests,” he added.

He said it is in the interest of India and the US that the region remains stable.

Giving details of Modi’s meeting with Trump, Gokhale said the Prime Minister told the US President that India had reduced oil imports from Iran, which supplied 11 per cent of India’s energy.

He said India had done this despite the effect it had on its economy.

The US, in May, ended its waiver to Indian companies from sanctions for importing oil from Iran.

Tensions between the US and Iran have escalated in the recent weeks after two ships were attacked in the Gulf of Oman, for which Washington blamed Tehran.

Talking about India’s concerns over instability in the region, Gokhale said India also has its diaspora present there, has energy requirements there and has economic interests there.

“Therefore, it is in India’s fundamental interest to ensure peace and stability of the region,” the Foreign secretary said.

He said the Prime Minister also pointed out that India has deployed some of its Navy ships in the region to protect the Indian flagged vessels passing through the Gulf and the straits of Hormuz.

This was appreciated very much by Trump and they had a brief discussion, Gokhale added.

The US President expressed his hope that oil prices will remain stable, he said.

Trump talked about “what United States was doing to ensure that stability was maintained in the Gulf and that oil prices were stable and both sides agreed that we would remain in touch on the issue of Iran and we will continue to have mutual discussion on how we ensure regional peace and stability,” the Foreign Secretary said.

On 5G, there was a brief discussion, essentially on the technical and business opportunities that this new area provides for cooperation between India and the United States, he said.

“The Prime Minister outlined that we are going to be a billion users of this technology and in that sense India is the second largest market in the world. The way India moves or the way whatever choices India makes will essentially determine the way the global trend will go,” Gokhale said.

To a question, the Foreign Secretary said there was no discussion on India’s deal with Russia for procurement of five S-400 missile defence systems, which the US wants to be scrapped.

Asked whether the S-400 issue could hurt relations with the US since India is determined to go ahead with the deal, he replied, “Let me be very clear about this. No one issue is going to impact on the larger strategic relationship between India and United States. This is a relationship which is deep, which is broad.”

He went on to add, “We have some issues, we will work through them but no one issue is going to, in any way, have any impact.”

According to the White House, the two leaders declared that their countries were “central to global peace and stability” and pledged to “provide strong leadership to address global challenges and build prosperity for their citizens in the decades to come”.

(IANS)

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US President Donald Trump threatens additional tariffs on China

US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the US would impose “very substantial” tariffs on China if the two countries were unable to reach a trade deal during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan.

“I would do additional tariffs … very substantial additional tariffs if that doesn’t work, if we don’t make a deal,” the US President during an interview, the Efe news reported.

Trump said: “Companies are moving out of China, by the way, some are coming back to the United States because they don’t want to pay the tariff.”

Trump said the US was benefiting from the tariffs imposed on Chinese goods.

“When tariffs go on in China we are taking in billions and billions of dollars – we never took in 10 cents – now you have another $325 billion that I haven’t taxed yet – it’s ripe for taxing – for putting tariffs on,” Trump said.

The US President, however, said he was optimistic about reaching a trade deal with Beijing, adding that China needed an agreement more than the US.

Trump said the Chinese government knows “what we have to have” to cut a trade deal.

“We don’t have intellectual property rights protections, we don’t have the opening of China,” Trump said. “You know, China’s not open. We’re open, but China’s not open. So, if we don’t have the openings of China, if we don’t have the things that we negotiated, and maybe even more than that.”

Trump said that while he hoped to reach a deal with Xi, his “plan B” could include a 10 percent tariff on “$600 billion” worth of goods from China.

“Now what’s going to happen … all of those companies will move out of China – most of them – and they’ll move to other places like Vietnam and other places that take advantage of us, and we’ll start working on that too … I don’t want to do too many at one time,” Trump said, referring to trade deals.

The US President said he had decided to use tariffs differently than his predecessors and that his policy was getting results.

Trump and Xi are expected to meet on Saturday in an effort to deal with the trade tensions and amid threats from Washington to impose additional tariffs.

The G20 summit will take place in Osaka, a city in southern Japan, June 28-29.

In May, Trump imposed a 25 percent tariff on Chinese imports worth $200 billion in response to the lack of progress in reaching a trade deal with Beijing.

China, for its part, retaliated by slapping tariffs on US imports worth $60 billion.

In 2018, the US posted a trade deficit of $419 billion with China due, largely, to the fact that US exports to Asia’s largest economy totalled just $120 billion, while American imports from China reached $540 billion.

(IANS)

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India

We must sue Facebook, Google: US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump has threatened to sue tech giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter, saying they are spreading political bias against the Republicans.

In an interview with Fox Business Network on Wednesday, Trump blasted tech companies, saying they are “all Democrats” and that their services are “totally biased toward Democrats,” reports Variety.

“Look, we should be suing Google and Facebook and all that, which perhaps we will, OK?” Trump said.

He specifically took Twitter to the task.

“What they did to me on Twitter is incredible. I have millions and millions of followers, but I will tell you, they make it very hard for people to join me (on) Twitter and they make it very much harder for me to get out the message,” Trump said.

He blasted Google for working on to prevent “the next Trump situation”.

Twitter “should be sued because what’s happening with the bias. Now you see it with that executive yesterday from Google. The hatred for the Republicans”, Trump said during the interview.

An undercover video made by a conservative group showed Jen Gennai, Head of Responsible Innovation at Google, as saying that the company is trying to prevent another “Trump situation” from happening again in the 2020 election.

In a stern warning to tech giants, the US House anti-trust committee has opened probes into Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon and other tech giants to determine if they prevent competition and hurt consumers.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) will reportedly handle Apple and Google while the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will take Facebook and Amazon.

A Google spokesperson reacted to Trump’s outcry against the company: “We build our products with extraordinary care and safeguards to be a trustworthy source of information for everyone, without any regard for political viewpoint. Our rating guidelines are publicly visible for all to see”.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the FTC previously closed an investigation of Google without taking action but now the DOJ will take another look into Google’s practices in Search and other areas.

(IANS)

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India World

US President Trump steps back from air attack on Iran

 US President Donald Trump wages wars of trade and words, but he has pulled back from an air attack on Iran that could have led to an armed conflict — an actual war.

Countermanding the hawks surrounding him, Trump aborted air strikes on Iran in retaliation for Tehran shooting down an unmanned American surveillance drone a mere 10 minutes before its launch on Thursday.

He tweeted on Friday: “We were cocked and loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. One hundred-fifty people, sir, was the answer from a General. Ten minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone”.

Trump laying down proportionality as a factor is a marked departure from previous administrations.

Both the Bushes, senior and junior, caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan as collateral damage in their wars.

This picture of Trump caring for 150 Iranian lives may seem incongruous, but he is a man of complex psyche. Despite his bluster and threats – even to annihilate North Korea – he appears reluctant to start a military war, perhaps having learnt the lessons of the US wars of the last half a century and is against military adventures abroad.

Iranians can retaliate causing widespread economic harm by disrupting traffic in the Gulf region by shutting down the Strait of Hormuz, the area where they had shot down the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone on Thursday, claiming it was over their territory, which Trump has denied.

Tehran has shown that it can almost masochistically absorb pain, as during the war with Iraq under Saddam Hussein, or through years of international sanctions.

It is estimated that about 20 per cent of the world’s total crude oil passes through this choke point, about 40 kilometre at its narrowest point. India, which relies for much of its energy needs on the region, has sent two Navy ships to the region to protect its shipping.

The area presents other risks of immense magnitude for unintended escalation. In 1988, the US shot down a civilian Iran Air passenger Airbus killing 290 people, including 10 Indians, while it was over Iranian territory. The US made the fantastic claim that it had been mistaken for an F-14 Tomcat jet fighter.

A businessman by profession, Trump instead prefers to wield the economy as a weapon to beat down his foes. He has imposed painful sanctions on Iran – which causes collateral damage to countries like India and Venezuela. He earlier prevailed on Russia and China to more closely observe the UN sanctions on North Korea.

He has repeatedly said he doesn’t want war with Iran. Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a rare agreement with Trump said: “I don’t think the President wants to go to war. There’s no appetite to go to war in our country”.

Even before he ran for President, he called the Iraq war “a mistake” after supporting it in the initial phase. He said during his election campaign that he would bring home US troops from Afghanistan.

While in office, he pulled back US forces from Syria leading to a public break with his Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, who resigned in protest.

Before his decision to call off the air strikes, Trump had created wiggle room to avoid military action. He hinted that the Iranian leadership may not be behind it, saying: “I imagine someone made a mistake” – someone “loose and stupid”.

Earlier this month, two petroleum tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. The US blamed Iran for the attacks but Tehran has denied any involvement. Trump later downplayed the incident, too, tamping down the calls for retaliation.

He is surrounded by hawks like National Security Adviser John Bolton, whom he once said would have gotten the US involved in many wars if he had his way, and Secretary of State Pompeo.

Bolton wants regime change in Iran and Venezuela – and possibly most countries around the world and a display of US might.

In reality, the US does not have the power that Bolton imagines – or if it did, it has squandered it away.

Iran is larger and even more complex than Afghanistan or Iraq.

Trump also realizes that a large segment of his base – which contributes a sizable part of the US military personnel – is wary of wars, even if they sometimes sound jingoistic nationalists.

Iran is not entirely off the hook either even if it has avoided US retaliation this time. “I am in no hurry, our military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world,” Trump tweeted.

The current tensions began after Trump renounced the multinational agreement with Iran to stop nuclear proliferation and lift sanctions on Tehran. He then reimposed the sanctions.

On Monday, Iran said that it had increased production of low-grade uranium and would exceed the limits set by the nuclear pact unless the Europeans, who were co-signatories to the agreement intervened.

The Shia Islamic leadership’s continuing response may be to test Trump, while his hawks look for or engineer provocations.

(IANS)

 

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Iran’s downing of US drone escalates tension, puts Trump in tough spot

Tensions between the United States and Iran escalated to new levels after Tehran shot down an American drone on Thursday and pressure grew for retaliation by Washington testing US President’s assertions that he wanted to avoid a war.

Trump told reporters, “Iran made a big mistake. This drone was in international waters, clearly. We have it all documented scientifically not just words. And they made a very bad mistake”.

Asked how the US would respond, Trump said, “You’ll find out”.

At the same time, reflecting his reluctance for a war, Trump left room for a compromise hinting that the Iranian leadership was not behind it. “I imagine someone made a mistake,” he said and added that he thought it was someone “loose and stupid who did it.”

Trump has said in the past that he does not want to go to war with Iran. He has generally opposed US military entanglements abroad and has sought to get out of Afghanistan and Syria.

Contradicting Trump, Tehran asserted that the drone was in Iranian territory when it was brought down.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said the US “RQ-4 Global Hawk” was brought down by its Air Force near the Kouh-e Mobarak region, which sits in the central district of Jask county, after the unmanned plane violated Iranian airspace.

IRGC chief said, “The downing of the American drone was a clear message to America… Our borders are our red line and we will react strongly against any aggression”. But he also said that Iran did not want a war.

The escalation comes in the wake of the attacks on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz last week that the US said was carried out by Iran. Tehran, however, has denied it.

Trump, who opposes foreign military action, faces strong pressures from some in his administration and his party to attack Iran.

“If they’re itching for a fight, they’ll get one”, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham said.

He warned, “Iran needs to get ready for severe pain inside their country. Their capability pales in comparison to ours. We won’t let them disrupt navigation of the seas, attack our allies and US interests without paying a price”.

Another Republican Senator, Tom Cotton, in an interview to Politico, called for bombing Iran.

Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton has been advocating a strong action against Iran. Earlier this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly told members of US Congress that Iran was linked to al-Qaeda creating a possible justification for war.

Iran has the capability to shut down the strait of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of global oil production moves.

Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “I don’t think the president wants to go to war. There’s no appetite to go to war in our country.”

While acknowledging that “high tension wires are up in the region” and the US has to be strong protect its interests, she said, “We started to lose credibility on the subject when we walked away from the Iran nuclear agreement.”

The current tensions began after Trump renounced the multinational agreement with Iran to stop nuclear proliferation. That pact was signed during his predecessor Barack Obama’s administration along with the other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany.

Trump imposed sanctions on Iran and on trade with it by others, affecting India’s oil purchases.

He has offered to hold talks with Iran, which has turned down the initiative.

On Monday Iran said that it had increased production of low-grade uranium and would exceed the limits set by the multi-party nuclear agreement that Trump has renounced.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “the world cannot afford a major confrontation in the Gulf region”.

His Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said, “He appeals to all sides to exercise maximum restraint and avoid any action that can escalate the already tense situation”.

(IANS)

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Beijing, President Xi Jinping Trump hold telephone conversation

Chinese President Xi Jinping held a telephone conversation with his US counterpart Donald Trump at the latter’s request.

During the call on Tuesday, Trump said he looked forward to meeting Xi again during the upcoming Group of 20 (G20) summit in the Japanese city of Osaka later this month, and conducting in-depth discussions on bilateral ties and issues of common concern, reports Xinhua news agency.

The US side, Trump added, valued its economic and trade cooperation with China, and hoped that the teams on both sides can conduct communication, and find a way to resolve the current dispute as soon as possible.

Trump said he believed the entire world hopes to see the US and China reach an agreement.

For his part, Xi said some difficulties have recently occurred in China-US relations, which is in the interests of neither side.

Reiterating that both countries gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation, Xi said the two sides should, in accordance with the consensus he has reached with Trump, push forward the China-US relationship featuring coordination, cooperation and stability on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit.

As the world’s two biggest economies, China and the US should jointly play a leading role in pushing for positive outcomes at the G20 Osaka summit, so as to inject confidence and vitality into the global market, added Xi.

The Chinese President said he stands ready to meet Trump in Osaka to exchange views on fundamental issues.

On economic and trade issues, Xi stressed, the two sides should solve their problems through dialogue on an equal footing, with the key being to accomodate each other’s legitimate concerns, adding that China hopes the US side can treat Chinese firms in a fair manner.

Xi said he agrees to have the two countries’ trade teams maintain contact on how to solve the dispute.

Following the conversation, Trump tweeted: “I’ve had a good phone conversation with President Xi. We will have an extensive meeting next week at the G20 in Japan. Our teams will start negotiating before our meeting.”

Despite signs indicating that a deal was close to being finalized, talks fell through in May and the situation escalated after Trump raised tariffs on Chinese products – with Beijing responding in a similar manner – and the US vetoed Huawei on grounds of it being an alleged threat to national security.

(IANS)

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Trump launching re-election campaign defiantly facing odds

US President Donald Trump will formally launch his re-election campaign on Tuesday, defiantly facing the threats of impeachment but hoping to float to office again on his steadfast voter base, a good economy and an opposition that has yet to coalesce around a challenger.

As he announces his run before an audience of 20,000 at a sports arena in Orlando, Florida, he will have before him the task of swimming against a tide of negative polls – less than half the people surveyed approve his job performance and he lags behind every possible Democratic challenger – and the threat of impeachment and investigations.

In 2016, his announcement was met with shrugs and amusement, but this time, despite the negatives, he is seen as a formidable challenger after successfully waging an asymmetrical election warfare.

He has made politics very personal with a tsunami of vitriol against his foes at home and abroad, and the media. But they too have retaliated and it will depend on how deep they will penetrate among the voters in the middle.

A measure of his potential vulnerability is the Republicans loss of control of the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections, which was pegged as a referendum on Trump. But his party improved its position in the Senate. For him to achieve anything meaningfully – if he is re-elected – he’ll also need to regain the House.

Even though the Republican Party convention to formally nominate him will be in August 2020 and till then he has to run the gauntlet of state primaries and caucuses to collect his delegates, he has gained complete control of the party and only one opponent, former Massachusetts governor William Weld, has announced a challenge that will be all but perfunctory.

On the other side, 20 Democratic aspirants for the privilege to challenge him will be tearing into each other for the next several months starting with their formal debates next week.

One of Trump’s hopes is that the nomination fight would have weakened the challenger who will emerge at that party’s convention in July 2020 as it happened with Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Trump would prefer to take on the front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden, whom he has dubbed “Sleepy Joe”, and is a mellow campaigner, or someone on the left like Senators Bernie Sanders (Vermont) or Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts), who could be ideologically vulnerable.

Counting on his mastery of turning adversity to advantage, he is virtually challenging the Democrats to impeach him while also facing about 15 inquiries from federal and state authorities on various allegations.

An impeachment, which would ultimately futile because the Democrats don’t have the strength in the Senate to oust him after the self-congratulatory drama in the House, could be a distraction for the election campaign against him.

For that reason, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and some centrist leaders oppose it. She is reported to have told her party members that she would rather see him in prison by defeating him and putting him on trial for his alleged crimes.

The report of the special investigation into allegations that Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russians during the 2016 elections found no such connection, disappointing the Democrats, but held out the hope that he could be charged with interfering with the probe, which could be the basis of an impeachment.

For a politician who thrives on bluster and aggression, Trump is portraying himself as the victim. He is pursued by a “witch hunt” run by the Democrats who “will stop at nothing to distract the American people from the great accomplishments of this administration”, he had tweeted recently.

His base remains strong – over 100,000 people applied for the 20,000 tickets to his campaign announcement and, according to his campaign, he collected 99 per cent of the contributions last quarter in amounts less than $200, averaging about $35, showing his appeal to a broad base of Americans, rather than the ‘plutocrats’.

His campaign has a war chest of at least $40 million, far more than any of the Democratic candidates, who will have used up a hefty portion campaigning against their counterparts in the primaries.

To make up for this imbalance, the Democrats are planning a $150-million generalized ad campaign against him, according to Politico news.

Even though things could change in a year, the economy is doing well and so far has not taken a hit from his trade wars against China and others including India. The unemployment rate at 3.6 per cent is at a 50-year low, and the stock markets have been doing well despite corrections with the Dow Jones index recording a gain of about 30 percent since he took office and now, although below its peak last September.

The trade wars he has started to reduce foreign exchange deficits and bring industries back to the US will take a long time to show results if he wins the confrontations. In the short-term, the trade war could hurt consumers, who will have to pay more for tariff-hit consumer goods, and certain sectors of the economy like mid-Western agriculture. But the farmers, who are a strong segment of his base, appear to be standing by him.

“Promises Made, Promises Kept” is expected to be one of his campaign slogans. Except for the tax cuts, which have propelled the economy, he has not kept the major ones. His promise of building a wall along the southern border is starting off on a more modest scale because he could not get the Democrat-controlled House to go along.

He said he would repeal the health insurance programme nicknamed “Obamacare” that was created under his predecessor Barack Obama and replace it with a “beautiful” new system. He hasn’t been able to do it either.

Getting traction among minorities and women is a major challenge for Trump and the Indian-Americans illustrate the problem. Even though he was the first presidential candidate to make a direct appeal to the Hindus, which other candidates had not despite religious appeals being the norm in US politics, he got only 16 per cent of their votes, according to an Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) survey.

And despite appointing the first Indian-American, Nikki Haley, to a cabinet post, several Indians to important administration and judicial positions, and being supportive of India internationally survey released last October showed he had only a 32 per cent favourable rating in the community, where 55 per cent viewed him unfavourably.

Besides the traditional support to the Democrats like all minorities, Indian-Americans are also put off by his fundamentalist Christian base and his rhetoric.

(IANS)

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Trump to slap more tariffs on China if Xi skips G20 summit

US President Donald Trump said that he will move forward with proposed tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports if China’s President Xi Jinping does not meet with him at the G20 summit later this month in Japan.

“China very much wants to make a deal. They want to make a deal much more than I do, but we’ll see what happens,” Efe news quoted Trump as saying to CNBC television during a telephonic interview, wherein he announced that if Xi doesn’t show up at the G20 summit, the new round of tariffs will take effect immediately.

“China is going to make a deal because they are going to have to make a deal,” the US President said.

Regarding plans to talk with Xi in Japan, Trump said: “We’re expected to meet and if we do that’s fine, and if we don’t – look, from our standpoint the best deal we can have is 25 per cent on $600 billion.”

“If we don’t have a deal and don’t make a deal, we’ll be raising the tariffs,” he said.

He once again hailed the power of tariffs to place the United States at “a tremendous competitive advantage,” and cited the agreement reached this weekend with Mexico for the southern neighbor to either strengthen migration control or have new tariffs imposed on it.

“The China deal is going to work out. You know why? Because of tariffs,” Trump said. “Right now, China is getting absolutely decimated by companies that are leaving China, going to other countries, including our own, because they don’t want to pay the tariffs.”

In May, Trump raised the tariffs on Chinese imports worth $200 billion from 10 per cent to 25 per cent and threatened with similar duties the rest of Chinese imports if no accord is reached with Xi at the G20.

China retaliated for the levies by imposing tariffs on $11 billion worth of goods from the US and has signaled that it is prepared to take further steps if Trump acts on his threat.

Chinese exports recovered notably in May and increased 7.7 per cent year-on-year in yuan terms even amid the bitter trade war between the world’s two largest economies, though analysts warned that the upward trend was likely to reverse in the third quarter.

The data shared by the General Administration of Customs on Monday also showed that imports to China declined by 2.5 per cent last month following a 10.3-per cent rise in April.

The volume of international trade increased some 2.9 per cent year-on-year in May to stand at 2.59 billion yuan ($374 billion).

Analyst Marcel Thielant from Capital Economics warned that despite the strong May figures, exports were poised to fall in the third quarter due to decline in global demand and the implementation of the latest tariff rates by China and the US.

Thielant said that Chinese exports to the US would suffer.

 (IANS)

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World

Trump suspends Mexico tariffs after reaching migration deal

US President Donald Trump has announced the indefinite suspension of tariffs against Mexican imports after the two countries signed a deal to stem the flow of migrants from Central America.

The proposed tariffs, which had been due to be implemented on June 10, were lifted after the US and Mexico signed an agreement on Friday following days of negotiations in Washington, reports Efe news.

“The United States (…) has reached a signed agreement with Mexico,” Trump said in a tweet.

“The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the US (…) against Mexico are hereby indefinitely suspended.”

In return, he said Mexico had agreed to take “strong measures to stem the tide of migration through Mexico, and to our southern border”, adding that this was “being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the US”.

On May 30, Trump had announced that tariffs of 5 per cent would be imposed on imports from Mexico, a duty that was due to increase gradually each month up to 25 per cent by October if Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was unable to slow the rate of migration at the border between the two neighbouring nations.

Trump did not provide any details of the deal signed on Friday, but said that the State Department would do so in due course.

The Mexican President thanked his fellow citizens for their support in avoiding the tariffs taking effect.

“Thanks to the support of all Mexicans, we were able to avoid the tariffs on Mexican goods being exported to the US,” he said on Twitter.

At an event in Los Cabos in Baja California on Friday, Lopez Obrador had rejected the “predominance of the strong” and had urged increased dialogue and communication to reach a consensus on the issue of migration.

Following Trump’s threat last week to impose the tariffs, Lopez Obrador sent a delegation to Washington led by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard for talks with US representatives to negotiate the deal.

One of the concessions made by Mexico on Thursday was to send 6,000 National Guard troops to its southern border with Guatemala, a crossing point for thousands of Central American migrants heading for the US.

Trump has made immigration one of the cornerstones of his mandate; during his campaign, he had promised to build a wall on the border, and has sought increased federal funds to tackle what he has described as a crisis and “grave disaster” at the US-Mexico border that has seen the country be “invaded by hundreds of thousands people”.

In May, the US detained more than 132,000 migrants at its border, 30 percent more than the previous month and the highest figure since 2006.

(IANS)

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World

Democratic support for Trump impeachment rises: CNN Poll

Democrats are increasingly in support of impeaching US President Donald Trump and removing him from office but the majority of Americans remain opposed to the prospect, according to a new CNN Poll.

Trump’s approval rating, meanwhile, holds exactly even with where it was in late April — 43 per cent approve and 52 per cent disapprove of the President, the poll revealed on Sunday.

Trump’s overall approval rating is about on par with Ronald Reagan’s rating at this point in 1983, and above Jimmy Carter’s 32 per cent at this point in 1979.

Meanwhile, support for impeachment rose slightly from 37 per cent last month to 41 per cent now.

The shift on impeachment stems mostly from a rebound in support for it among Democrats — 76 per cent favour it currently, up from 69 per cent in April. Whites who hold college degrees have also increased their support for impeachment.

In surveys in April and March, fewer than three in 10 in that group favoured proceedings, but that number has now climbed to 41 per cent.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who has resisted calls to open an impeachment inquiry into the President, sees her approval rating hold mostly steady in the new poll (40 per cent view her favourably, 48 per cent unfavourably).

About two-thirds of all Americans (67 per cent) have said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller ought to publicly testify before Congress, including majorities of Democrats (88 per cent) and independents (62 per cent) and about half of Republicans (49 per cent).

The CNN Poll was conducted on May 28 through 31 among a random national sample of 1,006 adults.

 (IANS)

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Forget Trump, will have tea at 10 Downing Street: Huawei CEO

In a strong signal to US President Donald Trump who is urging European allies to put pressure on or even block Huawei, the Chinese conglomerate’s Founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei has stressed that the US campaign against the company would not be powerful enough to call on everyone to follow them.

Petrified at the Chinese dominance in the field of 5G – a technology that has the potential to grow from approximately $528 million in 2018 to $26 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 118 per cent – Trump has imposed fresh restrictions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei in the US, followed by several American tech giants like Google, Qualcomm and Intel announcing to cut business ties with Huawei.

In a lengthy discussion with the Chinese media, Zhengfei denied that restrictions imposed by the US on its products and supplies will affect the roll-out of 5G technology.

“I used to have afternoon tea at 10 Downing Street. They asked me how I learned to catch up with the rest of the world, and I said it was the afternoon tea.

“Therefore, they received me with afternoon tea at Downing Street. We have been communicating with leaders of different countries. Every country has their own interests. The campaign of the US will not be powerful enough to call on everyone to follow them,” the Huawei CEO told the media.

As tech giants cut their ties with Huawei, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) – the world’s largest contract chipset maker – would continue to deliver critical semiconductors to Huawei Technologies.

“In sectors where we have the most advanced technologies, at least in the 5G sector, there won’t be much impact. Not just that, our competitors won’t be able to catch up with us within two to three years,” said a beaming Zhengfei.

“Even if there is an insufficient supply from our partners, we will face no problems. This is because we can manufacture all the high-end chips we need ourselves,” he added.

The company believes in 1+1 policy – half of its chips come from US companies and half from Huawei.

“Despite the much lower costs of our own chips, I would still buy higher-priced chips from the US. We cannot be isolated from the world. Instead, we should become part of it. These relationships won’t be destroyed by a piece of paper from the US government,” Zhengfei told the Chinese media.

Anticipating a US backlash, the company’s subsidiary HiSilicon which makes the Kirin chipsets for Huawei phones, has been reportedly stockpiling components and is confident about a steady supply of most products.

Another critical front where Huawei can see its market share slip significantly if it does not get Google’s support for myriad of products like Maps, Search, YouTube and Play Store, without which, the life can’t be imagined.

“Google is a good company – a highly responsible company. They are also trying to persuade the US government to solve this problem. We are both finding solutions and discussing possible remedies,” said the Huawei ECO.

To mitigate the effects of the Google Android ban, Huawei has reportedly been working on its custom HongMeng operating system but it is in early days.

“We will certainly be able to continue serving our customers. Our mass production capacity is huge, and adding Huawei to the Entity List won’t have a huge impact on us. We are making progress in bidding worldwide.

“Our growth will slow down, though not by as much as everyone imagines. In the first quarter of this year, our revenue grew 39 per cent over the same period last year. This rate may continue decreasing towards the end of this year. But the US ban will not lead to negative growth or harm the development of our industry,” he hoped.

The company currently has 26 centres of expertise for R&D globally, over 700 mathematicians, 800 physicists and 120 chemists working at Huawei.

“My children prefer Apple products over Huawei. Does it mean that they don”t love Huawei? Of course not.

“We cannot simply say that one is patriotic if they use Huawei products and they are not if they don’t use Huawei products. Huawei products are ultimately commodities. People use them if they like them. Politics should be left out of it,” he noted.

(IANS)

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Business

Washington, Nike, Adidas urge Trump to end trade war

Some of the world’s biggest footwear firms are urging US President Donald Trump to end the trade war with China, warning of a “catastrophic” effect on consumers.

In a letter signed by 170 companies, including Nike and Adidas, they said the President’s decision to lift import tariffs to 25 per cent will disproportionately impact the working class, the BBC reported.

They also warn that higher levies threaten the future of some businesses.

“It is time to bring this trade war to an end,” the firms urged.

Trump lifted levies on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports into the US from 10 per cent to 25 per cent more than a week ago after Washington and Beijing failed to reach a deal on trade.

China retaliated by announcing plans to raise levies on $60 billion of the US imports from 1 June.

The footwear companies who signed the letter, including Clarks, Dr Martens and Converse, claim that while the average US tariff on footwear is 11.3 per cent, in some cases it can reach as high as 67.5 per cent.

“Adding a 25 per cent tax increase on top of these tariffs would mean some working American families could pay a nearly 100 per cent duty on their shoes,” the companies wrote.

“This is unfathomable.”

When he lifted tariffs earlier this month, Trump told companies that they could reduce costs by shifting production to the US.

However, the shoe-makers and retailers say that while they have been moving their sourcing away from China: “Footwear is a very capital-intensive industry, with years of planning required to make sourcing decisions, and companies cannot simply move factories to adjust to these changes.”

The US and China are set to meet again to discuss trade at the G20 summit in Japan next month.

In the meantime, however, the US has increased pressure on China by declaring a national emergency to protect US computer networks from “foreign adversaries”, affecting Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant.

(IANS)

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World

Deutsche Bank staff saw suspicious activity by Trump, Kushner

May 20 Anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving legal entities controlled by Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog.

The transactions, some of which involved Trump’s now-defunct foundation, set off alerts in a computer system designed to detect illicit activity, current and former bank employees told The New York Times on Sunday.

Compliance staff members who then reviewed the transactions prepared so-called suspicious activity reports that they believed should be sent to a unit of the Treasury Department that polices financial crimes.

But executives at Deutsche Bank, which has lent billions of dollars to the Trump and Kushner companies, rejected their employees’ advice. The reports were never filed with the government.

The nature of the transactions was not clear, but some of them involved money flowing back and forth with overseas entities or individuals, which bank employees considered suspicious, according to the employees.

The red flags raised by employees did not necessarily mean the transactions were improper.

Banks sometimes opt not to file suspicious activity reports if they conclude their employees’ concerns are unwarranted.

But the former employees said the decision not to report the Trump and Kushner transactions reflected the Deutsche Bank’s generally lax approach to money laundering laws.

They said it was part of a pattern of the bank’s executives rejecting valid reports to protect relationships with lucrative clients.

“You present them with everything, and you give them a recommendation, and nothing happens,” Tammy McFadden, a former Deutsche Bank anti-money laundering specialist who reviewed some of the transactions, told The New York Times. “It’s the D.B. way. They are prone to discounting everything.”

McFadden said she was terminated last year after she raised concerns about the bank’s practices.

Since then, she has filed complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators about the bank’s anti-money-laundering enforcement.

In response to the development, Kerrie McHugh, a Deutsche Bank spokeswoman, said on Sunday the company had intensified its efforts to combat financial crime. An effective anti-money laundering programme, she said, “requires sophisticated transaction screening technology as well as a trained group of individuals who can analyze the alerts generated by that technology both thoroughly and efficiently”.

Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, the umbrella company for the Trump family’s many business interests, said: “We have no knowledge of any ‘flagged’ transactions with Deutsche Bank.”

She said the Trump Organization currently has “no operating accounts with Deutsche Bank”.

Karen Zabarsky, a spokeswoman for Kushner Companies, said: “Any allegations regarding Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Kushner Companies which involved money laundering is completely made up and totally false…”

This report comes after Trump and his family sued Deutsche Bank in April, seeking to block it from complying with the congressional subpoenas to reveal his tax returns. The President’s lawyers described the subpoenas as politically motivated.

(IANS)

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World

Donald Trump hosts second iftar dinner at White House

US President Donald Trump has hosted his second annual iftar dinner at the White House and said it’s “been a very rough time” for Muslims around the world.

The dinner, which breaks the daily fast of Ramadan for Muslims around the world, on Monday night was attended by ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps representing Muslim-majority nations, reports ABC News.

Trump cited the devastating attacks on Muslims killed in New Zealand, Sri Lanka, California and Pittsburgh.

“In their blessed memory, we resolve to defeat the evils of terrorism,” he said.

Trump’s speech emphasised world peace. “We thank god that America is a place founded on beliefs that citizens of all faiths can live together in safety and live together in freedom.”

He ended his address with a Muslim blessing: “Wish all the people around the world Ramadan Kareem.”

The iftar dinners have been regularly held at the White House since the former President Bill Clinton’s administration.

(IANS)

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China sending trade team to US despite Trump’s threat

China on Monday said that its trade delegation is still readying to go Washington after US President Donald Trump abruptly announced to crank up tariffs from 10 per cent to 25 per cent on Chinese imports worth $200 billion.

Trump’s Sunday announcement is new a twist in the ongoing US-China trade spat that seemed to be easing until last week as he claimed that a deal could be in the offing.

Following Trump’s new tariff threat, some media reports said China could cancel trade talks in Washington this week which is to be attended by its top trade envoy Liu He.

But the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that their delegation was still preparing to go the US for the parleys.

“We are trying to get more information on (Trump’s announcement.) What I can tell you is that the Chinese team is preparing to go to the US for the trade talks,” Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said here.

Asked if Liu will attend the trade talks, Geng was non-committal.

“As to the threat of the US increasing tariff is concerned, such a situation has appeared many times before. China’s position is clear-cut and the US knows that clearly,” he said.

“The trade consultation between the US and China have made positive progress. We hope that the US and China will work together to reach a mutually beneficial treaty on the basis of mutual respect. This is not only in the interest of the US and China but also in the interest of the international community.”

The two largest economies have been locked in a bruising trade war since July last year after Trump slapped an additional 25 per cent on an initial $50 billion of Chinese goods.

The US President followed it through with another 10 per cent on an additional $200 billion in products in September.

It is the levies imposed in September last year that Trump has now threatened to increase to 25 per cent from Friday.

This may scuttle the progress both sides have claimed to make in preventing the spat to worsen, a scenario that could impede the world’s economic recovery.

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World

Trump administration extends nuclear waivers for Iran

US President Donald Trump’s administration is extending waivers that allow countries signed up to the Iran nuclear deal to participate in civil nuclear projects with Tehran, the State Department said.

The US will extend waivers that allow the remaining parties to the 2015 deal to conduct research and do non-proliferation work at three sites in Iran without fear of facing sanctions, according to the Department on Friday.

However, the waivers will be reduced from 180 days to 90, and State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement that “assistance to expand Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant beyond the existing reactor unit could be sanctionable”, CNN reported

Bushehr is one of the three facilities exempted from sanctions along with Arak and Fordow.

The waivers will allow modifications that ensure that the Arak reactor produces less plutonium, that the underground Fordow nuclear site can continue to be converted into a research facility, and that Iran can still buy the fuel it needs to run the reactor at Bushehr and produce electricity.

The US will also revoke two waivers that allowed Iran to ship its excess heavy water for storage and swap its enriched uranium for natural uranium, according to Ortagus.

“The decisions today enhance our ability to constrain Iran’s nuclear program while pursuing maximum economic pressure,” Brian Hook, the State Department special representative on Iran, told CNN on Friday.

The waivers will also, for the time being, avoid a clash with allies and partners who remain in the nuclear deal. Had the waivers ended completely, countries such as China, France, Russia, Germany and the UK as well as the European Union (EU) would have faced the stark choice of either violating the terms of the nuclear deal — giving Tehran another reason to walk away — or face US sanctions.

The provisions allowing for civil nuclear cooperation in the deal are meant to reduce the proliferation risks of Tehran’s nuclear program.

“We are permitting the temporary continuation of certain ongoing non-proliferation projects that constrain Iran’s nuclear activities and that help maintain the nuclear status quo in Iran until we reach a comprehensive deal that resolves Iran’s proliferation threats,” the State Department said.

Friday’s development comes after the administration’s decision to end waivers that allowed countries, including India, to import Iranian oil on May 2.

IANS

 

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Facebook hires Donald Trump official as general counsel

Facing scrutiny from governments around the world over how it manages users’ data, Facebook has hired senior US State Department official Jennifer Newstead as general counsel, overseeing the company’s global legal functions.

A President Donald Trump-appointed legal adviser, Newstead has advised the State Department on legal issues affecting US foreign policy since receiving Senate confirmation in December 2017.

Newstead succeeds Colin Stretch who would continue at Facebook to help with the transition, the company said in a statement on Monday.

“Jennifer is a seasoned leader whose global perspective and experience will help us fulfill our mission,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer.

Newstead currently oversees work on all domestic and international legal issues affecting the conduct of US foreign policy.

She has a global practice representing clients in cross-border regulatory, enforcement and litigation matters.

“I am looking forward to working with the team and outside experts and regulators on a range of legal issues as we seek to uphold our responsibilities and shared values,” said Newstead.

The regulators across the world are closely monitoring Facebook and its senior management’s role in mishandling users’ data, especially the Cambridge Analytics scandal involving 87 million users.

The US federal regulators are considering the possibility of holding its CEO Mark Zuckerberg accountable.

According to a report in The Washington Post, “the discussions about how to hold Zuckerberg accountable for Facebook’s data lapses have come in the context of wide-ranging talks between the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Facebook”.

Facebook also named John Pinette as Vice President of Global Communications, succeeding Caryn Marooney.

“John’s deep understanding of the technology industry and his experience leading communications teams will be invaluable to helping us communicate the work we do at Facebook every day,” Sandberg added.

IANS

 

 

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Trump announces plans to end $5.6 bn preferential trade programme for Ind

US President Donald Trump has announced that he was ending India’s $5.6 billion trade concessions under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme accusing New Delhi of not providing Washington “equitable and reasonable access” to its markets.


Trump, who is on a mission to expand marker access abroad and end trade deficits, made the announcement on Monday in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence in his capacity as the Senate President.

The US Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) said that the preferences will end in 60 days after the notification to Congress and the Indian government.

Meanwhile, Trump said that he will continue to monitor if India is “providing equitable and reasonable access to its markets” and meet the GSP eligibility criteria.

India had opposed proposals to end the GSP saying that it would be “discriminatory, arbitrary” and hurt the country’s development.

India is the largest beneficiary of the GSP exporting goods worth $5.6 billion to the US under the programme. Congress establishes the conditions of eligibility for GSP, which include “providing the US with equitable and reasonable market access, protecting workers’ rights and combating child labour”.

Trump wrote in his letter: “I am taking this step because, after intensive engagement between the United States and the government of India, I have determined that India has not assured the United States that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to the markets of India.”

The USTR said: “India has implemented a wide array of trade barriers that create serious negative effects on United States commerce”, but did not mention the specifics in its statement.

“Despite intensive engagement, India has failed to take the necessary steps to meet the GSP criterion”, it added.

The total India-US trade was $126.2 billion in 2017, with a $27.3 billion deficit for the US, according to the USTR. India’s total exports were worth $76.7 billion and the end to GSP affects only a small part of it limited to $5.6 billion.

At a hearing held by the USTR last June on withdrawing India’s GSP, the minister in charge of commerce at the Indian Embassy in Washington, Puneet Roy Kundal, said that withdrawing the GSP benefits “would be discriminatory, arbitrary, and detrimental to the development, finance and trade needs of India, which is a vast and diverse developing country with unique challenges”.

The primary aim of the GSP is to help developing countries, particularly in sectors where the benefits can reach the poor.

Trump also said that he was ending the GSP for Turkey because of its economic success and rising living standards that would no longer make it eligible for the programme that is meant to help developing countries.

The President has been on a warpath against what he said were high tariffs on US imports to India. While pushing for the Reciprocal Trade Act in January, he brought up India’s duty on American whiskey, which he said was 150 per cent and on Harley Davidson motorcycles that he asserted he had gotten reduced from 100 to 50 per cent.

The decision to end the GSP may not entirely be influenced by high tariffs imposed by India on US imports. The two countries have had differences over the restrictions placed on e-commerce by Amazon and on Walmart subsidiary Flipkart and on data housing by Visa and Mastercard.

The decision comes as the US is reported to be making headway in trade negotiations with China aimed mainly at cutting American trade deficits with a deal expected soon.

Ironically, a trade group warned that taking ending GSP for India could end up helping China.

The American Apparel and Footwear Association said in a written testimony that if GSP benefits are withdrawn for India as well as Indonesia and Thailand, “companies will have no choice but to return to sourcing from China”.

It pointed out that Trump has threatened to impose 10 per cent punitive duties on US travel goods imports from China and ending the GSP for India “means that not only will sourcing return from China, but American consumers will pay far higher prices for their travel goods”.

The US dairy industry was a strong advocate of ending the GSP for India citing its difficulties in exporting to India.

Shawna Morris, Vice President of the National Milk Producers Federation and the US Dairy Export Council, at the the June USTR hearing accused India of refusing to provide them equitable and reasonable access to its markets through “unscientific sanitary and phytosanitary requirements”.

These requirements by India were that the exports should not come from cows that have been given cannibalised feed that includes offal or other meat products.

Kundal countered that it was not an issue fo of market access but of “certification given the religious, cultural and moral sensitivities” and India provide unimpeded market access to dairy products from all countries that met the criteria.

Another opposition came from the medical sector based on price controls on medical devices imposed by India. Kundal said that these were necessitated by India’s need to provide affordable health care to its citizens.

IANS