India looks to work with US on market access issues: Piyush Goyal

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Updated: August 19, 2021 10:10 PM

On Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) scheme, he said steel, pharma, and chemicals sectors are not covered due to a lack of adequate budget.

The minister also assured the industry that India will not allow the "same mistakes" that were made in the past FTAs and is trying to allow an interactive approach this time.The minister also assured the industry that India will not allow the "same mistakes" that were made in the past FTAs and is trying to allow an interactive approach this time.

India will look at working with the US on market access issues to promote bilateral trade as Washington has indicated that it is not looking for a new trade agreement as of now, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Thursday.

He also said that Australia has shown significant interest to do an early harvest pact with India and exporters should share areas of their interest with the ministry. An early harvest with countries like Australia will help India engage with others on similar lines, Goyal said.

“The US as of now has kind of indicated that they are not looking for new trade agreements, but we look at working with them for more market access issues on both the sides and I think that would also be a big relief and a big opportunity opener for our export sector,” he said while addressing the Export Promotion Council leaders in Mumbai.

On the proposed free trade pact with the UK, the minister said it is progressing well as both the teams are in talks.

“We are working with line ministries on areas where we can quickly close the deal in terms of an early harvest if possible, so instead of trying to address 11,000 lines (or products), we can look at areas of their immediate interest and our immediate interest,” Goyal said.

On the comprehensive trade pact with the European Union, he said discussions have started as the EU is a 27-nation bloc, an agreement with them is a much longer process. “We will work very hard to speed it up,” he added.

The minister also assured the industry that India will not allow the “same mistakes” that were made in the past FTAs and is trying to allow an interactive approach this time.

“We are engaging with all of you and industry to ensure that FTAs are fairly and equitably crafted, bringing in more elements of reciprocity. But FTA cannot be a one way traffic. We also have to open our markets to others if we are wanting a larger pie in their markets, and therefore my appeal and request to all is to also identify areas where we have the confidence that we can withstand competition,” he said.

He expressed hope for “an early win” with Australia. India has also started talks for a pact with Bangladesh.

“Our effort is to ensure that we focus on countries where we have significant potential and more with the developed world where we can compete better and where market size is of considerable value,” the minister said.

He also urged export promotion councils to study FTAs and see whether there are “hidden” opportunities in them as it will help India set significantly higher export targets for 2022-23. He informed that exports are doing good and it has increased by 55 per cent to USD 15 billion during the first two weeks of August.

Further, he said that two areas where significant opportunities for investment exist are shipping and semi-conductors.

On interest equalisation, he said it is at an advanced stage of finalisation within the government and “we hope that very soon we will be able to push out a cabinet note on that”.

On Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) scheme, he said steel, pharma, and chemicals sectors are not covered due to a lack of adequate budget.

“But we have an open mind to consider concerns and rectify mistakes that might have crept in if anyone feels it is detrimental to their industry,” he added.

He also informed the exporters that the ministry is setting up two separate divisions which will focus entirely on the services sector.

The minister said a policy would be announced for Santacruz Electronics Export Processing Zone (SEEPZ), besides Rs 50 crore would be used to set up a common service centre there and roughly Rs 200 crore for refurbishing or rebuilding so that SEEPZ can become a role model of truly world class export promotion area.

In the meeting, Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) Chairman Colin Shah raised the issue of announcement of ecommerce policy for the sector.

On this, Goyal said it is at an advanced stage and “we will finalise it shortly with the finance ministry”.

The minister asked the export community to also target USD 2 trillion exports by the year 2030, comprising USD 1 trillion merchandise exports and USD 1 trillion services exports.

Goyal also said that the ministry has asked its finance counterpart to reconstitute another committee on RoDTEP to look at any anomalies that can come in, and to look at the request of special economic zones and export oriented units.

“…For the current year, there may be certain constraints..(but) we are open to relook at it,” he said.

On the issue of online banking and exporters having a separate bank account, he said, “possibly the RBI may not agree easily on that but there could be some caveats put in or a regular reporting of that bank account to the principal banker or whether the same bank allows you to have two accounts.

“Some solutions to that can be easily found. It is probably one meeting with the RBI, we can find a solution to that,” he added.

On this, FIEO Vice-President Khalid Khan said that it was a welcome statement by the minister as it would help exporters.

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