India expects to sign a free trade agreement with EU next year: Goyal

India would be able to finalise a free trade deal (FTA) with the European Union by next year, said Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.  The minister said the government has already signed agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Australia, and is in talks with additional countries or blocs such as the EU, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

"By next year, we should be able to finalise a free trade agreement with the European Union," Goyal said, adding that a group from Italy, led by the country's foreign minister, is now in New Delhi, with whom he will hold talks. Three rounds of negotiations have already taken place with the UK, with a fourth-round possible soon, Goyal said, adding that he will meet with the officials on May 26-27.

FTAs will help India grow and create more jobs, Goyal said, adding that India seeks fair, equitable, and win-win agreements with other nations or blocs. Goyal went on to say that a closer look at the numbers shows that India is emerging as a manufacturing hub for high-class products, pointing out that the country recorded USD 38 billion in exports in April, the highest for the month after the busy March when businesses are eager to seal sales before the financial year ends.

Citing GST receipts of nearly Rs 1.67 lakh crore in March Goyal said it is highly encouraging that economic activity has rebounded beyond analysts' estimates, and that the jump in purchasing managers' indices reflects the same bounce.

He said, the country could attract USD 82 billion in foreign direct investment in 2021, the greatest level ever, because it has developed as a stable isle with values such as rule of law, democracy, and stable policies that attract businesses.

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