Good Wednesday morning. Apparently President Trump was serious about wanting the U.S. to buy Greenland: He called off a state visit to Denmark after the Nordic country’s prime minister said that the island wasn’t for sale. (Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here.)
Why Trump admitted that he’s exploring tax cuts
President Trump confirmed yesterday that he is considering tax reductions, after White House officials denied the idea. The reason: The U.S. economy might need the extra help.
Mr. Trump said he’s weighing cuts to payroll taxes and capital gains taxes. He claimed that it’s not because he is worried about a recession, and argued that the U.S. economy remains “incredible.”
• Private nonresidential fixed investment has dropped well below its 2018 peak.
• The growth rate for companies’ investments in new equipment is just under 1 percent.
• The Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers’ Index, a gauge of manufacturing health, is now just above recession levels.
And White House officials think a recession may happen. They’ve told donors as much, but have argued that any downturn would be “moderate and short,” according to Politico.
But the new proposals may not do much. Payroll tax cuts would increase workers’ paychecks, but they’re unlikely to make it through Congress. Lowering capital gains taxes would primarily benefit the wealthy. And by far the bigger problem, in many economists’ eyes, is the damage that the White House’s trade war with China, which Mr. Trump appears committed to, will inflict on the economy.
“It’s not a particularly coherent economic and political strategy,” Douglas Holtz-Eakin, an economic adviser to President George W. Bush, told the WSJ.
More: Central bankers are searching for new ways to combat slowing global growth as they prepare for their annual gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyo., tomorrow.
Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in New York, and Michael J. de la Merced and Jamie Condliffe in London.
For sale on Facebook: guns
The company’s Marketplace explicitly bans the sale of firearms. But a WSJ investigation suggests that sellers are using a very simple trick to trade guns on the platform.
• Sellers appear to list gun cases or boxes, which normally cost tens of dollars, for hundreds of dollars.
• “Those postings have become code for actual guns,” the WSJ writes, with sellers then explaining over private messages what is actually for sale.
• The WSJ found one gun case that usually retails for $30 listed at $950, and the seller explained that “he was really offering an AR-15 style semiautomatic rifle.”
Facebook has had problems with gun sales before, when users sold firearms in private Groups in 2016, and when Marketplace was first launched. But it tried to clamp down on the listings in both instances, saying they violated its rules.
The company said its screening “will never be perfect,” but added that it is “always looking for ways to improve our policies and enforcement.”
Four ways to rein in Big Tech
The Justice Department is doing it. So are the F.T.C. and Congress. Oh, and state attorneys general, too. We’re talking about antitrust investigations of Big Tech — but it’s unclear what kinds of remedies might result from the inquiries. Steve Lohr of the NYT takes a look at four main possibilities.
Bright-line breakups. The idea here is that a company can’t sell goods on a dominant online marketplace or platform that it owns, Mr. Lohr writes. It’s an aggressive approach that could prevent companies from entering new businesses. Many economists are leery of the approach, but it’s not implausible — and is supported by the presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Selective split-ups. “This is a case-by-case approach to breakups,” Mr. Lohr writes. One example: forcing Facebook to shed Instagram and WhatsApp. It’s probably more palatable to economists than the bright-line approach, but it’s important to consider whether it would actually enhance competition. There’s also a question of how easy it would be, if the businesses have become tightly enmeshed.
A tech watchdog. A new regulator “would be an expert group to supplement traditional antitrust regulators,” Mr. Lohr writes, that would be “able to move faster and have the expertise to constantly track the tech markets and trend.” Yet it’s unclear how much traction this idea would have with the Trump administration, despite bipartisan concern about Big Tech.
Unlocking our data. There are also more targeted ideas, some of which propose loosening companies’ control of user data, letting customers easily move from one service to another. Proponents say this would remove a barrier to competition. But it would require some finely crafted technical solutions.
Alibaba may be delaying its Hong Kong listing
The Chinese internet giant has reportedly pushed back a float of its shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange amid the ongoing protests in the territory, Reuters reports.
The listing may be pushed back until October after having been set for late this month, according to Reuters, citing unnamed sources. The hope is that political tensions will ease by then.
It would be one of the most prominent stock offerings in Asia in recent years, with a fund-raising target of $15 billion. Alibaba set a record for the largest-ever I.P.O. when it went public on the N.Y.S.E. in 2014.
Alibaba’s plans “are being closely watched by the financial community for indications on the business environment in the Chinese-controlled territory,” Reuters reports, because they provide “a window into Beijing’s reading of the situation.”
But there’s little sign that Hong Kong’s tensions will ease soon. Protests continue on the streets and in the airport, while Beijing and its state media continue to portray the demonstrations as “violent activities” meant to “trample the rule of law.”
The fallout could spread beyond Alibaba’s stock float. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNBC yesterday that any violent crackdown on the protests by Beijing would make a U.S.-China trade deal “more difficult.”
Facebook’s conservative bias audit gets slammed
The company yesterday published the findings of an audit into whether its platform censors right-wing views, as many Republicans have argued without substantive evidence. But it quickly drew criticism from both sides of the aisle.
• The audit was performed by former Senator Jon Kyl, a Republican from Arizona, and a team from the law firm Covington & Burling.
• It was based on interviews with approximately 133 conservative lawmakers and groups.
• It describes their concerns about how posts are ranked, how content is determined to be misinformation and how the company defines hate speech.
• But it stopped short of concluding whether bias actually exists on Facebook’s platform.
Few people were impressed by the findings, according to Politico:
• “Left-leaning groups blasted the Facebook report for lending legitimacy to the bias allegations, which they say lack merit.”
• Republicans deemed it a whitewash, with Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri calling it “a smokescreen disguised as a solution.”
Mr. Hawley proposed a deeper analysis, urging Facebook to “conduct an actual audit by giving a trusted third party access to its algorithm, its key documents and its content moderation protocols,” then make the results public. That might be a good idea — though it’s unclear whether such an examination would support his view that conservative bias exists.
Why Apollo went to war with a former rising star
Imran Siddiqui was once considered a bright young star at Apollo Global Management, the giant investment firm. But he fell out with his mentor and Apollo co-founder Marc Rowan, and their row is now the talk of Wall Street, Mark Vandevelde and Sujeet Indap of the FT write.
• The battle revolves around Athene, a life insurer that the pair set up and which later became one of Apollo’s most profitable affiliates.
• But the two men feuded over how to run Athene. By 2017, Mr. Siddiqui had left Apollo — and Mr. Rowan didn’t even stop by to say farewell.
• By then, Mr. Siddiqui had begun work on a rival to Athene. That led to legal battles in the U.S. and Bermuda over noncompete clauses and misuse of Apollo insider information.
• The disagreement “has degenerated into an ugly grudge match that one rival private equity executive likens to ‘a circular firing squad.’”
• The fight “shows that Apollo’s veteran founders, like their counterparts at Blackstone, KKR and Carlyle, are wrestling with how to groom new leaders without giving up control.”
Bank of America has hired Samardh Kumar from Citigroup as a managing director to lead a new investment banking team focused on promising privately held start-ups.
The speed read
• A U.S. national-security panel has approved BlackRock’s purchase of a stake in the cybersecurity company Cofense from an investment firm with Russian ties. (WSJ)
• Goldman Sachs is sending top executives to Saudi Arabia in hopes of winning a role on Saudi Aramco’s I.P.O. (FT)
• Cigna is reportedly considering the sale of its group benefits insurance business, which could raise up to $6 billion. (Reuters)
• Uhuru, a Japanese start-up that connects smart devices to the cloud and is backed by SoftBank, plans to stage an I.P.O. in London this fall. (FT)
• Companies are financing stock buybacks with debt like never before. It could lead to disaster. (Fortune)
Politics and policy
• President Trump retreated from support for universal background checks on gun sales yesterday after a 30-minute phone call with the head of the N.R.A. (NYT)
• Mr. Trump said that Russia should be readmitted to the Group of 7, a proposal that other members will probably dislike. (NYT)
• Italy’s government collapsed yesterday amid a power struggle within its governing nationalist-populist coalition. (NYT)
• Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain will reportedly seek Mr. Trump’s support to name George Osborne, the former British finance minister, as the next head of the I.M.F. (Bloomberg)
• Foreign investment in Britain has fallen sharply since the country’s 2016 vote to leave the E.U. (FT)
• Britain is enrolling nearly 90,000 companies in a new customs system in hopes of minimizing disruption if it leaves the E.U. without a deal. (Reuters)
• The U.S. and Japan are rushing to finalize a partial trade deal. (FT)
• Why charging Ghislane Maxwell, who is accused of abetting Mr. Epstein in identifying girls who became his victims, could be difficult. (Politico)
• A new Facebook tool lets you see which apps and websites have tracked you. (NYT)
• YouTube reportedly plans to stop serving targeted ads to kids in order to comply with an F.T.C. settlement. (Bloomberg)
• Walmart has sued Tesla over claims that its solar panels caused fires on store roofs. (NYT)
• China denied that it was meddling with social media in an effort to undermine Hong Kong protesters. (WSJ)
• Getting faster internet at home might not be worth it. (WSJ)
Best of the rest
• Harvey Weinstein wants his trial moved out of New York City, arguing that intense media scrutiny makes it impossible to get a fair trial. (NYT)
• How the rising number of college-educated women is changing the workplace. (WSJ)
• One way to save capitalism: Pay workers more? (NYT Op-Ed)
• A whistle-blower has accused Disney of overstating revenues. (WSJ)
• Robots can’t replace compliance officers at banks. Yet. (Bloomberg)
• Why McDonald’s has embraced podcasts. (NYT)
Thanks for reading! We’ll see you tomorrow.
You can find live updates throughout the day at nytimes.com/dealbook.
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For Hilary Mantel, There’s No Time Like the Past
Around that time, Mantel’s health began to deteriorate. A doctor dismissed her symptoms as a bid for attention and referred her to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist gave her tranquilizers and an antipsychotic drug and told her to stop writing.
Years later, when Mantel and McEwen were living in Botswana, she researched her symptoms and diagnosed herself with endometriosis. Doctors confirmed her suspicions, and when she was 27, she had surgery to remove her uterus and ovaries. The pain didn’t abate, and Mantel suffered from complications that still afflict her: her weight increased, her legs swelled, she felt exhausted and alien to herself.
Her illness made a normal day job impossible: “It narrowed my options in life, and it narrowed them to writing,” she said.
Mantel finished her first book, a novel about the French Revolution titled “A Place of Greater Safety,” in 1979, and sent it to publishers and agents, but no one wanted a 700-plus page historical novel by an unknown writer. She wrote a second book, a brisk, darkly comic contemporary novel, “Every Day Is Mother’s Day,” which became a critical success when it was published in 1985.
Over the next two decades, she published seven other novels and developed a cult following. Though her books vary in their subject matter, style and tone, they are bound by recurring themes: her fascination with transformation and the unseen realm, with myths and archetypes.
When she was writing her novel “Beyond Black,” about a medium who channels the voices of the dead, Mantel realized she was creating a road map for the Cromwell trilogy. “I was thinking, this isn’t just about a medium,” she said, “it’s about how to induce the necessary frame of mind to let the past enact itself.”
◇ ◇ ◇
‘The real story is better than anything I can come up with.’
When she began writing “Wolf Hall” in 2005, Mantel was still relatively obscure. She was also entering a saturated marketplace for Tudor historical fiction, territory that had already been mined by novelists like Philippa Gregory, Antonia Fraser and Alison Weir.
The World Isn’t Ready for a Major Coronavirus Outbreak
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A stark warning shakes the economy
The World Health Organization said yesterday that coronavirus cases outside China were accelerating. Around 80,000 people in nearly 40 countries have been infected, and at least 2,600 have died.
Draconian measures in China have slowed the spread there, the W.H.O. noted, but the outbreak could prove hard to contain elsewhere. Most health experts are worried about Iran, Italy and South Korea. Japanese officials said today that the country, which has more than 800 confirmed cases, was at a “crossroads” in fighting the outbreak.
If other countries followed China’s “bold approach,” as the W.H.O. put it, widespread quarantines and other restrictions would hit the global economy hard. This fear was partially responsible for yesterday’s tumultuous markets, as investors hedged their portfolios, businesses revised their forecasts, and officials prepared for the worst.
What’s up, what’s down
Global stocks fell sharply yesterday, with the S&P 500 suffering its worst single decline in two years. In just one day, the benchmark index gave up all its gains for the year. Every major sector fell.
Until now, investors viewed the virus outbreak “like a minor traffic jam,” according to the economist Megan Greene: “Disruptive but, in economic and financial terms, something you get past quickly.” Indeed, a recent survey of fund managers by Bank of America found that those investors were holding their lowest cash balances since 2013.
No longer. Stock investors are starting to price in the risk of a potential pandemic. Bond investors have been worried for some time, pushing long-term yields to historic lows.
Bucking the trend, the usual havens like U.S. Treasuries, the dollar and gold performed well. And if you’re brave enough to trade things linked to the VIX volatility index, the sharp, sudden lurch in trading has been a winner.
Why are investors reacting now? Our colleague Matt Phillips shares his thoughts:
The coronavirus isn’t just a China story anymore. Expanding outbreaks in other countries have investors and analysts rethinking their knee-jerk calls that the economic impact of the virus would be transitory and largely limited to China and its Asian neighbors.
So far, economists have only snipped their expectations for the economic impact on the United States and the profits of American companies. But the sharp tumble in stocks — and more importantly bond yields — on Monday suggests investors are quickly moving beyond those relatively rosy views.
Of course, investors can be wrong. Markets often overshoot, ping-ponging between overly optimistic when times are good to downright despondent on the first sign that they might, well, not be. The truth is almost always somewhere in the murky middle, except when it isn’t.
U.S. stocks are set to open up slightly today, although European shares also started in the green before slipping into the red. Traders say they aren’t in “sell everything” mode — even if what passes for optimism these days are calls like those from Blackstone’s Byron Wien, who recently said, “I don’t think it’s the end of the world.”
Companies count the cost; the Fed stands ready
Profit warnings from companies are piling up, as the outbreak’s impact on supply chains and consumer spending takes its toll.
United Airlines abandoned its earnings guidance for 2020, saying “the range of possible scenarios is too wide” to provide a sensible forecast. With some understatement, it said demand for flights to China was down “approximately 100 percent.”
Expectations for a Fed rate cut (or two) are rising, although central bank officials are reluctant to factor epidemiology into their forecasts for the U.S. economy. For their part, Goldman Sachs economists cut their estimate of first-quarter G.D.P. growth to just above 1 percent, saying the risks are “clearly skewed to the downside.”
Falling markets and weaker growth could be a threat to President Trump’s re-election chances, a source of consternation inside the White House. The president tweeted yesterday that the virus was under control in the U.S., and the drop in stocks meant the market was “starting to look very good to me!” The White House’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, added that investors should “seriously consider buying these dips.”
A watershed moment for #MeToo
A Manhattan jury convicted Harvey Weinstein yesterday of two counts of two felony sex crimes but acquitted him of charges of being a sexual predator. No matter: It was a big moment in holding powerful men accountable in a court of law.
A reminder of how the case reshaped the corporate world, according to Rebecca Greenfield of Bloomberg:
As sex-harassment complaints spiked in the last two years and numerous prominent people were fired, companies also found new ways to protect themselves. Some merger agreements now include a “Weinstein Clause” in case misconduct emerges. Companies can even purchase a type of “disgrace insurance” against wayward executives.
When private equity doesn’t deliver
The main selling point of private equity is that, despite hefty fees, it outperforms the stock market. Bain & Company’s latest report on the industry challenges this pitch.
U.S. buyout funds’ returns have essentially matched U.S. stock markets over the past 10 years. Returns over longer periods have been better for private equity, but investors may rightfully ask: What have you done for me lately? “Parity with public markets is not what PE investors are paying for,” Bain writes. (In light of these findings, the big annual industry confab that starts today in Berlin, known as SuperReturn, might not live up to its branding.)
The future isn’t looking much brighter. “If you draw a trend line between the 10-year return in 1999 and the 10-year return today, it would show a decline of 6 percentage points over that period,” the study’s authors add.
• The sheer amount of uninvested capital — some $1.5 trillion in so-called dry powder — is driving up prices for deals, eroding funds’ performance.
• The only sure winners, the report predicts, are sector experts — think Silver Lake for tech or L Catterton for consumer — or mega-firms like Blackstone and KKR.
Cross Buffett off the list of potential Bloomberg L.P. buyers
On CNBC yesterday, Warren Buffett told Andrew he would “have no trouble voting for Mike Bloomberg,” though he cautioned that support from a fellow billionaire might not help Mr. Bloomberg win the Democratic presidential nomination.
On buying Bloomberg’s company if the eponymous founder became president, Mr. Buffett — whose Berkshire Hathaway is sitting on $128 billion in cash and loves cash-rich companies with fat profit margins — didn’t mince words:
CNBC’s Becky Quick: If Michael Bloomberg becomes the Democratic candidate, would you consider buying his company?
Mr. Buffett: No. (Laughs.) I can give you a categorical answer to that.
Ms. Quick: Because of the price, because of …?
Mr. Buffett: There’d be somebody who’d pay more.
We threw out some names of potential Bloomberg buyers, including Mr. Buffett, in the newsletter last week … but that was before Mr. Bloomberg’s debate debut.
Fun fact: Mr. Buffett has finally traded in his flip phone for an iPhone, a sign of brand allegiance (in addition, of course, to his company’s $74 billion stake in Apple).
The speed read
• HP plans to counter Xerox’s hostile takeover bid with a plan to buy back $15 billion worth of stock. (WSJ)
• Revolut, the popular British fintech start-up, has raised $500 million at a $5.5 billion valuation. (Quartz)
• SoftBank’s second Vision Fund has reportedly invested $100 million in Behavox, a compliance software start-up. (Bloomberg)
Politics and policy
• President Trump received a huge welcome in India. But that won’t get him any closer to a trade deal with New Delhi. (NYT)
• Senator Bernie Sanders outlined how he would pay for policy proposals like “Medicare for all.” Not everything adds up. (NYT)
• Britain’s post-Brexit dilemma: come up with its own rules without alienating its most important trading partner, the E.U. (NYT)
• A Cisco employee made nearly $100,000 trading on insider information about a pending takeover. Then he turned himself in to the S.E.C. (Bloomberg)
• The European Commission has told its staff to begin using the encrypted messaging platform Signal for all communications. (Politico)
• Netflix cracked open its viewership black box, with a new feature that will show users the top 10 movies and TV shows in their country. (Yahoo)
Best of the rest
• The start-up reckoning is underway, as investor anxiety and cold financial reality settle in. (NYT)
• A harsh review by a former central bank chief of Thomas Piketty’s new book: “Look skeptically at its solutions.” (FT)
• A touching obituary for Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician who helped make Apollo 11 possible: “They asked Katherine Johnson for the moon, and she gave it to them.” (NYT)
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As Trump Visits India, a Trade Deal Remains Elusive
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s visit to India includes a state dinner, tens of thousands of cheering onlookers and even a marching band on camels — but a long-awaited trade deal between the United States and India is notably absent.
For the second time since September, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India visited the United States, the two countries have failed to reach even a limited “mini-deal” that would increase trade for focused groups of goods, like dairy products, medical devices and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Negotiators from both countries have been working since 2018 on a deal that would lower Indian barriers to some American products, and restore India’s access to a program that allows goods to enter the United States tariff-free.
But the breakdown in negotiations illustrates the steep challenge in reaching a trade deal between two countries headed by populist leaders who harbor suspicions of multilateral arrangements. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Modi want to protect jobs in their own countries by fending off foreign competitors — shared attributes that make it even more difficult to strike a comprehensive agreement that would roll back trade barriers more broadly.
“Both sides are attuned to their own political imperatives and not where the other side might have an area of accommodation,” said Nisha Biswal, president of the U.S. India Business Council, who served as assistant secretary of state for Central and South Asia during the Obama administration. “It is hard, then, to find where the common ground is where a deal could be struck.”
In appearances alongside Mr. Modi on Tuesday, Mr. Trump touted an agreement by India to purchase more than $3 billion of American military equipment, as well as other purchasing agreements related to commercial airlines and natural gas.
He said the two sides had made “tremendous progress on a comprehensive trade agreement” and that he remained optimistic they could reach a deal.
But urgency toward a deal appears to have faded, with both leaders appearing content for trade barriers to continue. Mr. Trump has said he is focused on a larger agreement that could be reached at the end of this year, if the two sides can find common ground.
That may not be easy. During his visit, the president reiterated his previous complaints about India’s high tariffs on American products, including Harley Davidson motorcycles and other goods.
“We’re being charged large amounts of tariffs, and you can’t do that,” Mr. Trump said. “I just said that’s unfair, and we’re working it out.”
He added that “the money you’re talking about is major, but the United States has to be treated fairly. And India understands that.”
Since trade talks began, both the United States and India have escalated tensions by ratcheting up tariffs and trade barriers, rather than lowering them.
In March 2018, Mr. Trump included India in the list of countries that would be hit by his steel and aluminum tariffs. India responded with retaliatory tariffs on American almonds, apples and other goods. Last May, the Trump administration stripped India of a special status that exempted billions of dollars of its exports into the United States from tariffs.
The two sides were close to reaching a modest agreement in early January that would remove barriers for American farmers and medical device makers and strengthen India’s intellectual property protections, among other issues. But new demands — like a U.S. request for India to buy more walnuts and turkeys — kept popping up, delaying an agreement.
India then surprised the Trump administration in February by pledging to raise import duties on more than 100 items, including medical devices, furniture, electronics, cheese and shelled walnuts — a move that became a major stumbling block to the pact’s conclusion.
Mr. Trump’s trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, responded by reopening previously settled issues. Then he canceled a planned trip to work out everything in person with Mr. Modi’s commerce minister, Piyush Goyal.
An Indian official briefed on the talks said that India would not be bullied into making an agreement with the United States, especially if those concessions might ultimately hurt Indian interests.
For both India and the United States, the trading relationship is an important one. India was the United States’ ninth-largest trading partner in goods in 2018, while the United States edged ahead of China to become India’s largest trading partner last year.
Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the outcome showed the limitations of Mr. Trump’s truculent approach to trade, in which he tries to ratchet up pressure on trading partners to force them into making a bilateral deal.
With smaller countries that count the United States as a major market — South Korea, Japan, Canada and Mexico — Mr. Trump has signed a series of small or revised deals. But with bigger economies, Mr. Trump’s one-on-one approach “has really run into roadblocks,” Mr. Alden said.
With China, it resulted in a limited trade deal, but not one that addressed the biggest economic issues between the countries. Negotiations with the European Union have so far failed to progress. And with India, Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign may have backfired, he said.
Alyssa Ayres, also a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said India had gradually been moving toward greater economic openness since experiencing a financial crisis in 1991. But in recent years, the Trump administration’s trade tactics may have pushed India in the opposite direction.
“Given that the Trump administration has brought tariffs back as a policy tool, we are setting the wrong example ourselves for these trade moves,” she said.
But Wendy Cutler, vice president of the Asia Society and a former trade negotiator, said the United States was hardly alone in its inability to get India to sign a trade deal.
India has yet to sign a deal with Europe despite years of talks and has fought efforts by the World Trade Organization to update its trade rules, Ms. Cutler said. Progress that the United States and India were making toward a deal “was overshadowed by new tariff and nontariff measures that India was erecting, seriously complicating the talks.”
The Trump administration’s biggest carrot is the restoration of India’s tariff-free status for industries under the Generalized System of Preferences. But that carrot, which waived $200 million a year in tariffs on Indian exports, hardly has the Indian side salivating.
Since Mr. Trump revoked that status, India’s exports of preferential goods like leather handbags, certain metal and plastic products and furniture have increased 5.5 percent, compared with a 1.9 percent increase in overall exports to the United States. That suggests Indian companies are facing little pain from the change in trade status.
“The U.S. needs the trade deal more than India does,” said Mukesh Aghi, the chief executive of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, a business group whose members include PepsiCo, Cisco, Mastercard, Boeing and Disney.
The battle over milk and vegetarian cows has been another example of how the two sides can’t seem to find a middle ground.
India produces more milk than anyone else in the world, yet it’s still not enough to meet demand. But India is worried that cheap imported milk from the United States will wipe out many of its 80 million small farmers, who typically tend just a few cows each.
“If our farmers go out of business, there is no one to feed us,” said Ashwani Mahajan, a leader of Swadeshi Jagran Manch, a business group affiliated with India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Then there’s the matter of what those cows eat. In the United States, cattle are typically fed ground-up parts of other animals. That does not pass muster with Hindus, most of whom are vegetarian.
Some American farmers are willing to keep cows on a purely vegetarian diet for 90 days before their milk is sent to India, said Tom Vilsack, the chief executive of the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the U.S. agriculture secretary under President Obama.
However, “the Indian government is not willing to accept that,” Mr. Vilsack said. “I don’t see any path forward.”
Ana Swanson reported from Washington, and Vindu Goel from Mumbai, India.
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