India is on “positive momentum” regarding the signing of trade agreements with the UK, Australia, Canada, Bangladesh, the European Union (EU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, Minister of Trade and Industry Piyush Goyal he said Thursday.
While the government is working towards “early harvest” deals with the UK and Australia as part of a broader trade pact, the United States has indicated that it is not considering a new trade deal with India, Goyal said. India, he said, would seek to work with the United States on market access issues to promote bilateral trade.
India has had extensive discussions with the US about a limited trade deal, but it didn’t go through.
UK is progressing well. The teams are talking to each other. Line ministries are identifying areas where we can quickly close the deal in terms of early harvest, if possible. Instead of trying to address 11,000 (tariff) lines, we can look at their areas of interest and ours, close an early harvest deal, and (then) negotiate the rest of the deal, ”Goyal said while addressing the advocacy councils of exports.
Similarly, Australia has shown the “highest level of commitment” and keen interest in an early harvest deal, he said.
An early harvest arrangement is a precursor to a Free trade agreement (FTA), in which trading partners lower tariff barriers on limited goods to promote trade.
Finalizing a trade deal between India and the EU may not be an easy road, considering there are 27 nations in the trading bloc and the talks have restarted after an eight-year gap. “We will work very hard to accelerate it,” Goyal said.
Taking into account past experiences, India has renewed its strategy for signing trade agreements and will not allow the “same mistakes” of the past.
“We are collaborating with the industry to ensure that FTAs are developed fairly and equitably. At the same time, FTAs cannot be one-way. We also need to open up our markets if we want greater participation in foreign markets. So we need to identify areas where we can resist competition. We can resolve FTAs fairly quickly if the areas in which we have the ability to compete internationally can be identified as part of a collective effort, ”Goyal said.
“Our effort is to ensure focus on countries where we have significant potential, where we can compete better and where the size of the market is significant,” Goyal said.
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Had it not been for the outbreak of the pandemic and the elections in Canada, a trade agreement with the country would have been at a more advanced stage, the minister said.
His comments gain significance as India moves away from the Asian trading bloc, the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Association (RCEP), which signed an agreement last year to create the world’s largest free trade bloc.
Last week, the Commerce Secretary had said that the signing of free trade agreements was crucial, as India was not part of any local or regional agreement.
“If there is an FTA with the United Arab Emirates, the FTAs with (other) GCC countries will also accelerate,” the minister said, urging export promotion councils to study the FTAs and see if there were hidden opportunities in them. .
On the new scheme to boost exports – Remission of tariffs and taxes on exported products (RoDTEP) – Goyal said that sectors such as steel, pharmaceuticals and chemical products were not included in its scope due to the lack of an adequate budget . “But we have an open mind to consider the concerns and rectify the mistakes that could have crept in, if someone feels that it is detrimental to their industry,” he said.
He also informed exporters that the ministry was creating two separate divisions that would focus entirely on the service sector.
EEPC India Chairman Mahesh Desai said the government should review reimbursement rates under RoDTEP and ensure full refund of taxes in the export production chain, otherwise Indian exporters of engineering goods could lose. some of the markets.
“In addition to this, the installments on account of the MEIS scheme should be settled. Banks should increase working capital limits, as steel prices have doubled and freight rates 3-4 times. These supports are necessary to meet the export target of $ 107 billion for the sector in fiscal year 22, ”he said.