The Art of the Deal is a book co-authored by President Donald Trump and Tony Schwartz, the book talks about Donald Trump’s journey from his childhood in Jamaica Estates, Queens up to the establishment of his business empire and how to run a successful business. It looks like Prime Minister Narendra Modi is indeed taking a leaf or two out of this book. Often being described as a tough negotiator by Trump, with as recent as at the Motera Stadium, it is a fact widely known that PM Modi never concedes an inch when it comes to matters of the country. “He (Trump) often calls me a tough negotiator, but he himself knows the art of the deal and I am learning from him,” PM Modi had said last year at the Howdy Modi! Rally in Houston, Texas. In the just-concluded trip of Donald Trump, PM Modi took the art of deal a notch above.
“I am going to India next week, and we are talking (about) trade. They have been hitting us very hard for many years. I like PM Modi but we gotta talk a little business. They gave us tariffs. One of the highest tariffs in the world is those offered by India,” Trump had said before coming to India and therefore PM Modi took the onus on himself to dispel any misgivings the American President had about India and how it was treating his country unfairly with little effort being made to address an adverse trade deficit between the two superpowers.
India has a trade surplus with the United States, and therefore, Trump has wanted a trade deal in favour of industries where American companies have an advantage. The 24.2 billion dollar number might be big but it does not tell the whole story and therefore PM Modi took out his iPad and gave President Trump an impromptu presentation on what India had done during his tenure to reduce the trade deficit from $31 billion in 2014 to $24.2 billion in 2018—a decline by 22 per cent over four years. PM Modi also showed that India’s hydrocarbon imports from the US went from zero in 2013 to $9 billion now and likely to reach $12 billion by the end of the year, with the US exporting oil, coal and liquified natural gas to India.
According to an HT report, he revealed that Indian students in the US were contributing nearly $6 billion each year to the American treasury by spending dollars in education. PM Modi then pointed out to the growing military hardware imports to India during President Trump’s tenure with more multi-billion dollar defence deals in the pipeline. India is buying $3 billion worth of helicopters this year, for instance. President Trump indicated to PM Modi that his country is willing to supply any top-of-the-line defence equipment including armed drones and fighters to India and that New Delhi was free to buy from anyone provided that the equipment was better in comparison to American hardware. Modi knows it’s not always about going by the book, here he took cognisance of Trump’s reservations about the trade deal and tried to address it in the most creative way possible.
Both the leaders put their countries at the forefront in whatever deal they are signing and despite some of the differences, the ties between the two nations have only strengthened. Besides being staunch right-wingers in the politics of their respective nations, the two leaders have certain goals that match, such as the eradication of radical Islamic terrorism and also containing China.
After the bilateral talks ended on Tuesday, the PM said both the countries will begin negotiations for a big trade deal soon. Though no trade deal could be finalized this time, India has only made positive strides and the grandeur reception given to Trump must have delivered the message that Trump and the USA are on top of the priority list for India. Trump was certainly overwhelmed by the hospitality given his rave and positive comments about the Prime Minister. “We had a great time. We had great meetings… This is a tremendous country. I think they like us more than they ever liked us. There is a great relationship between the Prime Minister and myself.” Trump said at the presser referring to his chemistry with PM Modi.
India’s PM was at his diplomatic best in giving Trump and his family the astute attention they deserved which showed unprecedented sealing of warm ties. Modi hit all the right chords with his friend and American president and Trump returned, content, and indications are that a big trade deal is in the offing. The Ipad might have just done the trick and the art of the deal has come in handy too.