Industry

Govt to go slow on FTAs to avoid RCEP-like impasse: Piyush Goyal

File photo of Union Minister Piyush Goyal.

File photo of Union Minister Piyush Goyal.   | Photo Credit: Kamal Narang

Indian businesses and industries have been put to disadvantage over the years, and instead of addressing some of the real issues that they face, more and more distress was caused to them, Mr. Goyal said.

India will not sign any free trade agreement in a hurry or to the disadvantage of industry and exporters, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday, more than a month after the country walked out of the China-backed mega trade deal RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership).

Speaking at an event organised by CII, Mr. Goyal said the government took a bold decision in national interest because clearly, the pact had become nothing but an India-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which “nobody wants.”

“As for the first time it reflected the resolve of the government that diplomacy will not prevail over trade. Trade will stand on its feet, on its leg,” he said.

The commerce and industry minister added that Indian businesses and industries have been put to disadvantage over the years, and instead of addressing some of the real issues that they face, more and more distress was caused to them.

Mr. Goyal said after the 2010-11 FTAs were finalised, India’s exports barely inched up while imports shot up drastically, and therefore the country’s trade imbalance became manifold.

The minister said he has been told that “voice of industry did not resonate” when India signed FTAs during the previous government.

“I can assure all of you that going forward, none of the FTAs will be settled in a hurry or to the disadvantage of Indian industry and exporters,” he said.

Referring to the proposed U.S.-India trade pact, the minister said several rounds of engagements have taken place.

“We are ensuring that even the first leg of our trade deal with them (the U.S.) is for the benefit of both countries equitably,” he said.

The minister also said walking out of RCEP does not mean that India does not want to be a part of the global value chain.

“But are the global value chains only in China...global value chains are across the world,” he said, and stressed “lets first prepare our industry” and empower those who want to be part of the global chain.

He said industry should focus on becoming part of value chain with Europe, the U.S., ASEAN (Association for South East Asian Nations), Japan and Korea, among others.

The minister also told the industry leaders present at the event that the government was working relentlessly to support and strengthen domestic manufacturing.

He said India will have to prepare itself for a rules-based multilateral trading system and for that, it will have to look at ways which are WTO-compliant, support industry from the base and then stand on its own feet.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 12:40:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/govt-to-go-slow-on-ftas-to-avoid-rcep-like-impasse-piyush-goyal/article30328920.ece

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