Pompeo comes in New Delhi on Tuesday for talks that are aimed toward laying the ground for a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later in the week at a G20 meeting in Japan.
India is embroiled in disputes with the United States over tariffs, Indian price caps on imported medical devices, almost all from the United States, and Indian rules on e-commerce that enforce conditions on the operations of leading U.S. companies like Amazon and Walmart.
Another problem that has alarmed India is the chance of U.S. restrictions on work visas for Indian professionals in retaliation for India’s insistence on local data storage by big foreign firms, although the State Department said on Thursday it had no such plan.
“U.S.-India trade ties, at least between our capitals, are certainly worsening. We both have leaders who look at trade as a zero-sum game,” said Richard Rossow, a U .S .-India expert at Washington’s the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The Indian government led by Modi, who was re-elected last month with a huge majority, says it has been seeking to negotiate solutions to the disputes with the United States but that, as a developing country, it has to secure the interests of its people.
Trump has frequently criticized India for its high tariffs and last month raised the stakes with the withdrawal of a decades-old trade privilege.
Indian and U.S. officials said trade would be addressed while in Pompeo’s visit but emphasized the broader political and security relationship.
“There will be certain issues between us that will be on the table at all points of time,” an Indian government official said. “But it should not detract from the overall direction of the relationship, which is positive.”