India will seek a “long over-due” review of its free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan when commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal meets his Japanese counterpart Nishimura Yasutoshi in Los Angeles later on Thursday.
Both the countries had adopted the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in August 2011. However, India’s trade deficit with Japan has only exacerbated after that, prompting New Delhi to review the FTA to restore greater trade balance. Domestic steel makers have often complained about a surge in imports from Japan as a consequence of the FTA. While India’s exports to Japan stood at just $6.2 billion in FY22, its imports hit $14.4 billion.
Both Goyal and Yasutoshi, the Japanese minister of economy, trade and industry, are in the US to attend the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework ministerial, which is taking place on September 8-9. They are scheduled to hold bilateral meetings as well.
Asked if the review of the FTA with Japan will be taken up soon, Goyal said: “I think that’s quite long overdue and I am going to raise that issue with my counterpart from Japan. He has just taken over some time ago as a new minister. So, I will be taking up that issue.”
Goyal said an interim deal with Australia is expected to be ratified by the Australian Parliament by the end of this year. The deal was signed in April, just before Australia went on an election mode.
Goyal said Australia’s new trade minister Don Farrell “has assured me that they are very pleased with the outcome of the Indo-Australian negotiations and the trade agreement that we finalised, and that they (Australia) will be putting it through Parliament soon”. Farrell is visiting India later this month to discuss trade issues with Goyal.
Asked about his upcoming bilateral meeting with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on the sidelines of the IPEF ministerial, Goyal said the meeting is a “follow-up” of their usual engagement to boost bilateral trade. The US is India’s largest export destination. It accounted for New Delhi’s merchandise despatches worth $76 billion in FY22, or 18% of its total exports.
(The reporter is in the US at the invitation of industry body CII)