FTA talks with Russia, US, EU on, trade policy not planned around one nation: Piyush Goyal


New Delhi: Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said India is engaging to sign free trade agreements (FTA) with the US, EU, Russia and the UK even as it reviews all its old trade pacts to bring symmetry.

Goyal said India will “gain significantly” from its limited trade deal with the US.

“Even if we don’t do the deal, our exports have increased to the US…GSP withdrawal has not significantly impacted our exports,” he said, adding that India’s exports to US are growing very rapidly in the last 2-3 months and the deal is “almost finalised”.

Restoration of duty concessions under GSP or Generalized System of Preferences are India’s key demand in its trade deal negotiations with the US.

“However, due to Covid-19, the US was not as much focussed on government functioning. So, we will wait. I have left it to the US. India is ready to sign tomorrow. We have given them a balanced offer,” Goyal said at an event organised by IIFT.

Emphasising that a deal has to be a win-win for both sides, the minister said India will always protect the interest of its agriculture, diary, MSME sectors, domestic local industry, and do a balanced deal.

“And that is why we didn’t sign RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) because it was not balanced in fair way”

“We are working to give a renewed focus to FTAs with the developed world. If other countries want access to the market of 130 crore Indians then they will have to give us equal access to their market. India is not going to be a patient receiver of unfair trade practices. We will take hard but smart decisions,” he said.

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The commerce and industry ministry is meeting export promotion councils on Friday as it reviews the India-Korea CEPA and New Delhi’s trade deficit with the east Asian country.

China focus

On being asked about India’s policies towards China on various sectors such as toys, solar, auto and TVs, he said: “Let’s not focus only on one country. When we are looking at foreign trade, India’s future, let’s not plan everything around one country…There is no anti-one country tariff”.

Explaining that domestic industry will take some time to pick up, he said: “There are many practices in that country which we don’t…we don’t have price controls or hidden subsidies.”

India’s exports to China in the first quarter of FY21 rose 32.93% on year to $5.53 billion while imports shrank 36.16% on year to $11.02 billion.

His statement comes in the wake of the government erecting barriers to curb imports especially those from China through higher duties, quality control orders, limits in government contracts, technical regulations, port restrictions and stricter checking of imports, among others.

“India has shown its capability to withstand any pressure and the same goes for trade,” he said, adding that India’s exports grew 13% on year in the September 1-7 period.

On India restricting toy imports, Goyal said it could have pitfalls such as a rise in prices in the short run but the country is looking at anchor investors, clusters and toys that are relevant to India to boost domestic industry.

“We are looking to attract 1-2 FAB facilities to come to India…This will also help enhance our solar capacity,” he said, adding that the centre is in talks with states to reduce power costs, and deregulate and make it easier to start a business. Vietnam, he acknowledged, has a deregulated environment and trade pacts with the EU and RCEP, which are aiding the relocation of companies in China to that country.

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A phased manufacturing plan for TV components is also in the works.





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