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Trump and Modi set for first, high-stakes meeting

June 26, 2017 3:46 AM
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In their first face-to-face meeting, U.S. President Donald Trump and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attempt to build trust and a rapport in what some are calling a "bromance in the making."

When Modi meets President Trump for the first time on Monday, there will be a big elephant in the room: Immigration and the hotly contested H1B program.

India continues to be a big beneficiary of this popular visa program, a key way Indian IT talent makes its way to the U.S. to work for Silicon Valley's biggest firms, such as Apple, Google and Accenture, among others.

But over the past three months, Trump unveiled the "hire American buy American" initiative, which has put the current H1B program under review. Any dramatic changes could hurt India's IT outsourcing industry, which plays a significant role in driving India's economic growth.

But a senior Indian government official said Modi is prepared to dive into this complicated discussion by highlighting the value Indian Americans have contributed to the U.S. economy, including an estimated 64,000 jobs.

Modi may also use Indian IT firm Infosys as a poster child for investment from the outsourcing industry. Infosys recently announced it's planning to hire 10,000 Americans over the next two years to demonstrate a willingness to invest in the U.S. jobs picture.

Modi will likely communicate India's strong desire to buy more U.S. arms, which may appease Trump's interest in increasing U.S. exports.

Modi is specifically interested in high-tech drones from General Atomics to better patrol the Indian Ocean. This would likely have a large price tag and would require the approval of Congress.

"Defense is where India and the U.S. will likely see eye to eye," IHS Markit's Vice Chairman David Yergin, an energy and international politics specialist, told CNBC.

Monday's meeting will likely be more about relationship-building than deal-making.

Source: cnbc.com

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