India and the US are in dialogue to look at ways, beyond a free trade agreement, to promote economic ties by providing better market access and enhanced engagement on investments, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Sunday.
The Commerce and Industry Minister said that both countries are working on many things to further boost economic ties. “The US has taken a decision not to do any other new free trade agreement (FTA). Now that is the call the US has taken, it’s not about whether they want to do a deal with India, they have taken a call at the macro level.
“However my counterpart and I are in dialogue to see how at least we can look at other ways beyond an FTA, better market access, more engagement on investments, and maybe identify products where we could support each other,” he said while addressing the 19th Annual Harvard India Conference. Talking about India’s trade, the minister said the country’s merchandise exports would cross the USD 400 billion mark in this fiscal.
“Our imports are also all-time high and we welcome it” because through imports a country gets technology, capital equipment, and intermediate products which help in promoting domestic manufacture. “So personally, we are not against imports. In fact when the imports grow up it encourages the private sector to invest, it actually sets in motion the investment cycle, that means there is a demand for goods and services,” Goyal added.
He said that India has increased customs duties on certain products to contain low-quality import of goods and to provide a level-playing field to domestic firms for promoting manufacturing. “If one has to assess where duties have gone up. Mostly products where India has a competitive strength. We could actually produce in India if we have a level-playing field,” he said.
Talking about revamping of the commerce ministry, he said the ministry has engaged BCG for that. “They are rewriting the entire commerce ministry….So we are rewriting the entire working of the ministry…The ministry is going to rewrite its rules of business in the coming few months,” Goyal said.