Will engage with new USTR for fresh trade package; old one off table: Goyal

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday said he will engage with the new United States Trade Representative (USTR) for a fresh trade package as both the countries would have to look afresh at different ideas.

He said India and the US will have to see how their engagement in the future can address some of the problems they have seen in the past and prepare both the countries to meet the needs of their people.

"I will engage with the new USTR to try and put together a fresh package. I think the old one is now off the table," he said at a USIBC webinar.

The remarks assume significance as both the countries were negotiating a mini-trade deal.

Goyal said that India is looking forward to work"very" closely with the new US administration to strengthen economic ties.

"However, we need to further our trade and economic engagement with greater degree of flexibility on both sides and with an open mind and open heart, understanding each others' imperatives, sensitivities," he said.

Trade between India and the US has grown exponentially, but still there is a lot to be desired, the minister said, adding both sides would continue to engage to achieve USD 500 billion trade target.

Further, he said the last time when both sides were discussing the trade pact, "we were knit picking very very small issues and changing the goal post in every subsequent conversation."

"I do hope that this time around, we can look at the big picture," he said.

Goyal added that India and the US have to sort out some of the issues which are much more relevant to a larger engagement and leave aside some of the small things which earlier were kind of "deal breakers".

"I think we need to leave those (issues) aside and move into the orbit of a much greater engagement given the fact that we complement each other," he said.

On reform measures announced in India, the minister said one specific ask of the US to increase the FDI (foreign direct investment) limit in insurance has been accepted.

"We shall now have 74 per cent FDI permitted through the automatic route in insurance. I do hope we will see some fresh capital coming in and not people just selling old stakes and upping the foreign investor stakes. Because the purpose of increasing the cap was to help the insurance companies grow in India," he said.

Reforms in the defence, mining, labour and agriculture sectors will open up new opportunities for American companies to grab some low hanging fruits.

"I do hope the sensitivities of an economy emerging out of the shadows, wanting to give a better quality of life to our people, increase our per capita income, will be kept in mind as we expand our engagement between the two countries," he said.

He invited US firms to look at India as a manufacturing base from where they can serve a large Indian market as well as global markets through cost-competitive products.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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