Talks for proposed FTA between India and the UK: Goyal
Talks for proposed FTA between India and the UK: Goyal

GANDHINAGAR: The focus of the negotiations for the planned free trade agreement between India and the UK  is on what is agreeable to both nations and preventing sensitive topics from derailing the talks, said Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.

He also asserted that student visas are never included in free trade agreements (FTA).

The sixth round of negotiations between India and the UK just came to an end, and the seventh round will take place soon.

On January 13 of last year, talks with the UK were launched in an effort to increase investment and trade between the two countries.  The bilateral trade between the two countries increased to USD 17.5 billion in 2021-22 compared to USD 13.2 billion in 2020-21. In 2021–22, India's exports totaled USD 10.5 billion while its imports totaled USD 7 billion.

 "With UK, our attitude is let's focus on what is acceptable to both countries and let's not allow sensitive subjects to derail our conversations", Goyal told reporters at Gandhi Nagar..

When sought about a statement of a UK official that granting more students visas for India is not part of this agreement, the minister said: How many students go there (UK) to study? It's never a part of an FTA”.''Have you ever heard of student visas being part of FTA? 

The UK Secretary of State for Trade has disclaimed any significant similarities between the FTA the UK reached with Australia following Brexit and the prospective agreement with India.

FTA negotiations, according to Goyal, never take place at news conferences, newspaper articles, or other public events. Instead, these are "serious" discussions held between officials and at higher political levels as needed. Hard-core negotiations must result in a situation where both nations benefit, he said.

The commerce minister stated that when referring to the potential trade agreement with Canada, India is looking at an early harvest agreement, also known as an early progress trade agreement.

We want to "catch the low hanging fruits" in this, he said, "so that enterprises may start enjoying the fruits faster and when people start experiencing the benefits."

In response to a question regarding India's decision to withdraw from the trade pillar of the 14-nation Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), Goyal stated that India would be pleased to join that pillar if it were deemed to be in the national interest.

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