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India for initial early harvest agreement with UK: Piyush Goyal


PTI, Jul 12, 2020, 8:17 AM IST

New Delhi: India is open to negotiating an initial early harvest agreement with the UK, ahead of a full-fledged free trade pact between the two countries, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday, July 11 said.

“India stands committed for greater engagement with the UK as the huge potential exists between the two countries to expand bilateral trade,” he added.

Goyal said that India can engage with the UK in sectors like pharma, textiles, leather, industrial machinery, furniture, and toys.

India is also looking to the UK to support it with technology-based products such as high-quality cameras, medical devices, automobile, “maybe spirits (as) India is considered one of the largest consumers of scotch whiskey, which is always been an area of interest for the UK”, he noted.

“The choice is of the UK, I am open to having my officers sit down and talk to the officers of in the UK morning to evening and give them a 15-30 days window not to get out of that room till they finalize at least an initial early harvest before we can look at a longer-term PTA (preferential trade agreement). Free trade agreement should be our goal, but we can do a PTA in an immediate future,” he said at Indian Global Week 2020.

“Ministers and officers from both the sides can sit down across video conferencing and come to terms at least for first 25-30 items that are of mutual interest,” the minister added.

“I have an open mind. I am coming to the negotiations with no preconceived notions, no red lines. I am offering to the UK an early harvest PTA …if the UK is willing to correspondingly come forward with that openness, I am willing to start talking from Monday morning at 9 am,” he said.

He also said that they are talking to the European Union for the long-stalled FTA.

“I am similarly open to the EU. While we discuss a longer-term FTA, (we can) look at an early harvest PTA. I am keen that we should progress in the talks. We are willing to discuss with an open mind on a variety of subjects. Well, it’s up to the EU and the UK,” he added.

In a PTA, two trading partners significantly reduce or eliminate import duties on a certain number of goods. In FTA, the partners do the same for the maximum number of goods besides relaxing norms to promote trade in services.

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