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Donald Trump Jr. Retreats From Foreign Policy on India Trip

Mr. Trump’s original intention to give a speech Friday on “Indo-Pacific” cooperation — a policy idea recently championed by President Trump as a counterweight to China’s rising influence — sparked an uproar. It underscored how the Trump family, with some members working in the White House and others running the family real-estate business, has blurred the traditional line between public and private interests.

Although the president has turned over management of the Trump Organization to Donald Trump Jr. and another son, Eric Trump, he still holds a huge financial interest in the company’s projects around the world. Ethicists and former government officials of both American political parties have raised concerns that foreign-policy decisions made by the White House could affect the Trump Organization’s business prospects, and in turn, the president’s wealth.

Mr. Trump has downplayed those concerns during his India visit, saying that the company’s promise not to seek new foreign projects during the Trump presidency has hurt its business.

In India, officials have been struggling to understand what the Trump White House means for Indo-American relations.

“Under Trump, you cannot be sure the policy today will be the policy tomorrow,” said C. Raja Mohan, a foreign-policy analyst and director of Carnegie India. “That is a huge problem.”

India views some of the president’s evolving positions as favorable and others as less so.

His recent criticism of Pakistan as a haven for terrorists has been music to the ears of leaders in New Delhi, who view that neighboring country in much the same way. The president has also signaled that he sees a more important role for India, along with other traditional American allies like Japan and Australia, in an Indo-Pacific grouping that would curb Beijing’s influence.

The Trump administration has strengthened military ties with New Delhi and discussed a flurry of defense agreements, including one that may see the F-16 fighter jet move its production line from Texas to India.

At the same time, there are significant tensions between the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Trump administration on several key issues, including immigration and trade policy.

In an attempt to boost Indian businesses, the Modi government has raised tariffs on imported products such as electronics and cosmetics. India has also tangled with American drug companies over patent protections for their products. In 2017, the United States had a $ 23 billion trade deficit with India.

“For Mr. Trump, the trade deficit issue is huge,” said Mr. Mohan.

Indian immigrants are also a large segment of the work force of American technology companies. President Trump campaigned on curbing such immigration and has gradually tightened the rules governing the H-1B and other visas used by tech workers. On Thursday, the administration announced rules that would make it harder for Indian outsourcers with many corporate customers to bring workers to the United States and move them from site to site.

The conference was in full swing as news spread of the administration’s decision on tightening H-1B visas. Uber’s chief executive officer, Dara Khosrowshahi, seemingly took a dig at the younger Mr. Trump, who was sitting in the audience and has voiced strong support for his father’s tough stance on immigration.

“The American dream is the single most incredible brand in the world,” Mr. Khosrowshahi said. “I’m worried that the attitude this American administration has on immigration will ruin that brand.”

The journalist who interviewed Mr. Trump, Supriya Shrinate, did press him on immigration, asking whether he thought it was fair that he could travel the world and invest in places like India at a time when the United States was tightening immigration rules at home.

Mr. Trump deflected the question.

Source: NYT > World

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