Trump visits a big foreign market — for the U.S. and for Trump Org

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“After politics, we would certainly look at India and other markets.” Trump Jr told the Indian newspaper Mint in 2019. But India, he conceded, “would be a big focus of mine. Frankly, it would be easier for me to get going in India because of the relationships we have built up in the last decade.”

After winning the election in 2016, Trump ignored calls to fully separate from his company, which comprises more than 500 businesses, a step past presidents have taken. He still owns his business but placed his holdings in a trust designed to maintain assets for his benefit. Trump, who donates his presidential salary to support federal agencies, can withdraw money from the trust at any point without the public’s knowledge.

His decision to link his private business interests with America’s highest public office in an unprecedented way has led to a vast web of potential conflicts of interest, allegations he is using the office to enrich himself and accusations he makes foreign policy decisions based on his businesses.

In the weeks after his election in 2016, Trump met with three of his Indian business partners — Atul Chordia, Sagar Chordia and Kalpesh Mehta — during the presidential transition at Trump Tower in New York, irking government ethics veterans.

Trump has repeatedly denied a connection between his business and his presidency, but multiple lawsuits, Democrats and government ethics specialists have accused the president of improperly mingling the two. The White House and Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment for this report. Neither Don Jr. and Eric are joining for the trip to India, though Trump will be accompanied on the trip by his daughter, Ivanka Trump, a former executive at the Trump Organization who now serves as a senior advisor at the White House.

Trump is scheduled to leave Sunday for India, where he will hold a massive rally with Modi at a cricket stadium in Ahmedabad in the western part of the country before he travels to the capital, New Delhi, for official talks.

Trump visited his properties in Scotland in 2018 and Ireland in 2019 on trips but isn’t expected to visit his Indian developments which are condo buildings, not resorts or clubs. Yet Trump has shown in the past that he is willing to drop in references to his properties while discussing unrelated political issues.

“It’s a little different situation than him going to his own club and being able to hold court there,” said Alyssa Ayres, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia who now serves as senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “This trip will make [his properties] more visible in India.”

The Trump Organization’s history in India goes back over a decade. The company began talks with developers in India around 2007, initially signing a deal to develop a skyscraper in Mumbai. But that project floundered and it took another six years before the company finally entered Indian market in 2013.

Today, the company has four luxury condo projects across the country with what has been reported in India as revenue potential of $1.5 billion. In April 2016, it also proposed an office building in Gurgaon, a suburb of Delhi.

Trump Tower Pune, the first Trump development in India, is a pair of 23-story skyscrapers in the western Indian state of Maharashtra that boasts of redefining the Pune skyline. Trump Tower Kolkata is a 36-story skyscraper of black and silver glass that touts floor-to-ceiling windows in every room. Trump Tower Mumbai has a shimmering gold facade covering 75 floors that feature panoramic views of the Arabian Sea — there’s also a private jet available for customers. And each of the two Trump Towers in Delhi rise 50 stories.

At least one of the Trump Organization’s partners is struggling, though. Macrotech, the developer of Trump Tower Mumbai, is saddled with mounting debt and was downgraded late last year by global credit rating agencies, including Moody’s and Fitch. It has a bond repayment due weeks after Trump’s visit.

The developments took Trump to India at least once in 2014, 10 months before announcing his presidential run, according to interviews. He attended the launch of the tower in Mumbai and promoted another property in the nearby city of Pune.

In India, the Trump Organization licenses its name and receives royalties from the projects instead of owning and managing the properties outright. It’s a similar set up to many of the company’s developments around the globe. The company often retains great interest in how the properties are developed and promoted, though.

According to the president’s personal financial disclosure forms, the company’s Indian properties have earned Trump millions. Since 2014, Trump has likely earned more than $10 million in royalties from his deals with Indian developers, though exact numbers are not listed. In 2018, for example, he earned between $1 million and $5 million from the Kolkata property.

“India, among other emerging markets, is the biggest push for our organization,” Trump Jr. says on one of the Indian developer’s websites.

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