NEW DELHI: Donald Trump’s electoral victory may not have an adverse impact on India-US trade relations as his hawkish statements during campaigning suggested. Industry watchers said his statements on free trade including immigration, outsourcing, renegotiating treaties with other countries on American terms and even pulling out of the World Trade Organization were mostly election rhetoric.
In a note, State Bank of India said candidates who in the past scraped through in the US elections seemed to have performed better in terms of managing the economy.
“If this is statistically significant, it augurs well for the US and India in the coming years,” the note said, but emphasised the need for the US to adopt a realistic position so that it can avail itself of Indian expertise where it will tend to benefit.
Abhijit Das, head of Centre for WTO Studies at Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, said, “In the campaign, he came out as a person not favourably inclined towards trade. We need to see how much of that was election rhetoric, and how much gets actually translated into policy shifts.”
One key pressure point has been the export and temporary movement of Indian labour to the US, especially professionals in the IT industry. President-elect Trump has been critical of Americans losing their jobs to migrants including Indians and experts fear non-tariff barriers such as an increase in visa fees in the coming days.
“One should have a comprehensive and integrated approach towards global economic engagement instead of looking at one sector only. Indians are the front runners of cutting edge technology companies in the US and have proved their contribution in sustaining big businesses there through employment generation,” said Ram Upendra Das, professor at the external affairs ministry think tank Research and Information System for Developing Countries.
Incidentally, some of the biggest US-based technology firms such as Google, Adobe and Microsoft are led by Indian Americans.
“No doubt trade policy could bear the imprint of president’s personal vision. However, one must also remember that it is the commercial interests of business groups which provide continuity to trade policy,” Das said.
Further, Trump’s vehement opposition to the US-led 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement may not turn into reality because regardless of his victory the TPP could be ratified by a ‘lame duck’ session of Congress, which is held after the election but before the new president is sworn in.
“We don’t expect any adverse impact on our bilateral trade relations but if TPP takes a backseat, it will benefit us,” said Ajay Sahai, director general of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations.