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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

Trade talks between India and US are on the right track, says Piyush Goyal

Addressing the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) in New Delhi, Union commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said that the India-US relationship is at its best ever now and trade relations between the two countries have a huge potential which is yet to be tapped.

india Updated: Oct 22, 2019 04:41 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal at second annual India Leadership Summit hosted by US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) with the theme ‘Partners of Growth’ in New Delhi
Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal at second annual India Leadership Summit hosted by US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) with the theme ‘Partners of Growth’ in New Delhi(Photo: PTI)
         

Union commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Monday said that trade talks between India and the US are on the “right track” and New Delhi is creating a single window for American investments in India.

Addressing the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) in New Delhi, he said that the India-US relationship is at its best ever now and trade relations between the two countries have a huge potential which is yet to be tapped.

Goyal added that the government is working to create a single window for investments in India. He added that he welcomed innovative ideas and solutions for the creation of this window. Goyal told the forum that his ministry is also working to bring down the cost of logistics that have to be borne by manufacturing companies in India.

Goyal’s comments came a day after Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in the US that she would prepare a blueprint for global companies looking beyond China to make India as their preferred destination to invest.

“I will make a blueprint with which I will approach them and put forward to them as to why India is a far more preferable destination and make every attempt to invite them to India,” she said.

Goyal referred to the trade talks between India and the US and added that things are on the right track. He added that India is looking to the US for technology, innovation, skills, and quality education. India, on the other hand, offers an attractive market for US businesses and skilled labour that can add value to American companies, he said.

Goyal told a business conference that he was hoping to meet US trade representative Robert Lighthizer soon.

Goyal said that by now, India and the US would have announced the package, but for the preoccupation of his counterpart Robert Lighthizer first with US-Japan trade negotiations and later with discussions with the Chinese side.

“Therefore, probably, the finalisation of the trade package got a little delayed. But we have almost resolved the broad contours of what we are going to announce. I don’t see any great difficulty in closing the gaps on the first announcement,” he added.

However, speaking on the sidelines of the event, Goyal hinted that India may not rush to sign the RCEP trade pact, saying that it will ensure that its national interest in all sectors are protected before it does so.

On RCEP, negotiations for which started in 2012 among the 10 member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and its six FTA partners, Goyal seems to suggest that unless all demands of India are met, it will not sign the deal, negotiations for which are nearing an end.

“Dates are for astrologers to decide. Every interest of the domestic industry and people of India has to be protected before we execute any free-trade agreement. India will ensure that on services, on investments, in every aspect our national interest is protected first before any agreement is entered into,” Goyal said.

Energy imports from the US

Speaking at another session of the forum, in a conversation with Tim Roemer, former US ambassador to India, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that India is the “hotspot in energy investment destination” in the world. “I invite all energy players to bring their technology and investment here and become a part of India’s growth story,” he said.

Pradhan said that the country has moved to an open, transparent, process-driven policy atmosphere, and all are welcome to invest. The investing companies must bring technology, capital and good business models to India, he added.

“Energy is increasingly an important component of our bilateral trade. Our crude oil import from the USA was almost nil in 2014. The total import of petroleum products from the USA including LNG (liquefied natural gas) in 2018-19 stood at over $7 billion, and is likely to go up further this year,” Pradhan said. According to USISPF estimates, the India-US bilateral trade is projected to grow to $238 billion by 2025.

Sectors like defence trade, commercial aircraft, oil and liquefied natural gas, coal, machinery, and electronics are areas of potential growth in the US investments and commerce in India. Indian industry has an opportunity to promote automotive, pharmaceuticals, seafood, IT and travel services to the US market.

(Mint’s Asit Ranjan Mishra and Reuters contributed to this story.)