India is looking to conclude free trade pacts with several nations including the United Arab Emirates, Australia, the United Kingdom within a few months, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal indicated on Saturday.
Speaking on Day 2 of the India Today Conclave, Goyal pointed out that the world is looking to work with India as a trusted partner.
The minister who also heads the ministry of textiles said that the trade agreement with the UAE is expected to be signed within the next three to four months, while that with Australia will see an early harvest or an interim agreement by December 25. In the case of the UK, an interim agreement is expected by March and a full agreement by June or July next year.
Goyal was speaking at the session called Vitamin G: Designing booster shots for trade & commerce. A road map". Others on the panel were Kunal Bahl, CEO of Snapdeal, Sanjay Nayar, chairman of KKR India and TV Narendran, Global CEO & MD of Tata Steel & President, CII.
"The world is wanting to work with India. And I can tell you my own meetings or discussions with various world leaders from trade and economy, that they are very keen to expand our relations between India and other countries," Goyal said. He added that Canada was also keen on an FTA with India, but the process got delayed due to Covid.
"We are looking at a possible FTA with a couple of more countries," Goyal said. The Narendra Modi led government has only signed a single free trade pact (with Mauritius) during the last seven years in power. It also withdrew from the regional cooperation of economic partnership (RCEP) pact, citing unfavourable tariffs for India.
TV Narendran suggested that "when we negotiate FTAs, "we need to make sure we are doing the right thing."
Dismissing concerns over private consumption in the economy, the commerce and industry minister cited the robust goods and services tax collection and exports data to suggest strong demand revival,
"The numbers of overall GST collection is a reflection of people's spending. The net collection in a GST regime which is at the last stage of consumption, clearly reflects consumption coming back into the market. The fact that industry, by and large, is almost running to capacity in all the main sectors, the PMI is high the mood of the industry is very positive," Goyal said.
GST collections have exceeded the Rs 1.1 lakh crore mark in the last few months. India reported $101.89 billion in exports in the quarter ending September.
"The mood in the country is that goods and services are competing with each other in a friendly manner to reach the 1 trillion mark each," Goyal said.
Bahl of Snapdeal pointed out that India's startup ecosystem was now the 3rd largest in the world after the USA and China. "We have come a long way as a startup ecosystem and one needs to look in the rear-view mirror to see the distance that has been covered to believe in what will happen next," said Bahl.
Sanjay Nayar said that the formalisation of the economy in the last 5-6 years has been tremendous, whether it is the formalisation of the tax system or the digitisation of the economy.
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