Hours before India made it official to partially lift its ban on the export of essential drugs, US President Donald Trump in an apparent warning on Monday said that “there may be retaliation” if India does not agree to export Hydroxychloroquine, a key anti-malaria drug believed to be effective in the treatment of Coronavirus.

In a White House briefing, Trump said: “I spoke to him (PM Modi), Sunday morning and I said we appreciate it that you are allowing our supply (of Hydroxychloroquine) to come out, if he doesn’t allow it to come out, that would be okay, but of course, there may be retaliation, why wouldn’t there be?”

As India mulled on lifting the ban, President Donald Trump said he would be surprised if Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not allow it.

“I would be surprised if he does (ban its export to the US), because, you know, India does very well with the US,” he said at the COVID-19 Task Force briefing at the White House.

“I don’t like that decision, I didn’t hear that was his decision. I kow that he stopped it for other countries, I spoke to him yesterday. We had a very good talk. and we’ll see whether or not that’s –I would be surprises if he would, India does very well with United States. For many years they’ve been taking advantage of the United States on trade. so, I would be surprised if that were his decision. He’d have to tell me that, I spoke to him Sunday morning, called him. I said, we appreciate you allowing our supply to come out, if doesn’t allow it to come out, that would be ok. but ofcourse there may be retaliation. why wouldn’t be there?,” Trump told reporters.

The Government of India had on March 25 banned export of anti-malaria drug hydroxycloroquine, with immediate effect to ensure sufficient availability of the medicine in the domestic market. However, India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade, an arm of the commerce ministry which deals with export and import-related matters, said it will allow export of the medicine on humanitarian grounds on case-to-case basis on the Ministry of External Affairs’ recommendation.

Following this, last week, Trump requested PM Modi to release the amount of Hydroxychloroquine ordered by his country to aid America’s fight against the deadly COVID-19 disease.

India has received similar requests from several other countries including its immediate neighbours like Sri Lanka and Nepal. India had said that it is reviewing its export ban order.

Notably, India’s decision to ban the exports of Hydroxychloroquine is driven by its desire to take stock of the domestic requirements and ensure that the country has enough in its kitty.

Hydroxychloroquine tablet is used to prevent and treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, among other ailments.

Hydroxychloroquine has been approved by the national task force of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) as a prophylaxis – a treatment to prevent a disease – for people at “high risk” of contracting COVID-19. However, it is recommended only for a healthcare worker who is treating a COVID-19 patient. Secondly, it is recommended only for persons staying and caring for a household positive patient. They can take that only for ‘prophylaxis’, or prevention.

The drug is seen as to offer a viable therapeutic solution to Coronavirus that has so far taken the lives of more than 10,800 Americans and infected over 3.6 lakhs, just in a matter of weeks.

Meanwhile, Trump’s warning of retaliation comes a day after the American government through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on Monday announced $2.9 million to support India in its fight against the novel Coronavirus disease, COVID-19.