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Cementing the U.S.-India relationship will be one of the cornerstones of President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, said a member of his transition team Nov. 18, during a briefing organized by USINPAC.

 

“The president-elect understands that the U.S.-India relationship is the most important relationship. India is our second-largest trading partner. The relationship will grow stronger,” said Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, who was named to Trump’s transition team Nov. 11. Barletta is a small businessman who started a sidewalk-painting company, with seed money of just under $30. He went on to serve as mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, for three terms, beginning in 2000, and began his first term in Congress in 2011.

 

Barletta noted that India is one of the biggest buyers of defense equipment made in the U.S. He noted that the countries must join hands to fight global terrorism, which he said continues to grow.

 

Matt Keelen, a lobbyist who served as an advisor to Trump’s presidential campaign, also spoke at the briefing, noting that both countries are attempting to tackle terrorist attacks within their borders. He added that former President George W. Bush did a “good job of promoting India during a very trying time in the world,” and noted that the landmark U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Deal was signed during the Bush administration.

 

Keelen told India-West after the briefing that the new administration has not yet clarified its position on H-1B visas for skilled temporary workers, and could not say whether the program would be expanded or scrapped. Indians make up the majority of H-1B applicants.

 

“Illegal immigration will be the first focus before we begin to tackle legal immigration,” said Keelen, declining to comment on whether Trump would stick to his plan of deporting three million undocumented residents during his first 100 days.

 

The lobbyist also said that the president-elect intends to put all trade deals “back on the table” for review.

 

At the briefing, moderated by USINPAC chairman Sanjay Puri, Keelen confirmed that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley had met with Trump in consideration for a Cabinet post either in the State Department or in Commerce. (See India-West story here: http://bit.ly/2grSdwt.)

 

Keelen also confirmed that former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was being considered to head up Health and Human Services, also a Cabinet post.

 

“Both are serious contenders, but there is a lot of competition for those positions. A lot of people are interested in coming into the administration,” he said.

 

Trump’s biggest focus will be rebuilding the economy, primarily via investing in infrastructure, which would also result in a surfeit of American jobs, said Keelen, noting that the approach has bi-partisan support. Trump will also push to bring back jobs to the U.S., from companies who have moved their manufacturing bases abroad, he said, noting that Ford and General Motors have cancelled plans to move manufacturing plants to Mexico. Apple recently announced that it is trying to move i-Phone manufacturing back to the U.S., noted Keelen.

 

“Entrepreneurship and small businesses will grow our economy again,” said Barletta, predicting an annual growth rate of 4 percent under the new administration. The congressman opined that lowering taxes and eliminating “onerous” regulations would help America’s businesses to grow, and – in turn – create more employment opportunities. He advocated for reforming or repealing the Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – and making it more affordable so that businesses could provide their employees with health insurance coverage.

 

“This economy will take off under Trump,” stated Barletta.

 

“We are coming to a moment in history where America will truly boom,” said Keelen.

 

Source- India West

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