India-UK FTA: Issues to be resolved in coming weeks, says Piyush Goyal

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Trade Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said India and the United Kingdom (UK) would be able to resolve the pending issues for a free-trade agreement (FTA) in the coming weeks, as the remaining issues were not insurmountable.


“FTAs are crystal-gazing into the future. You have to really project how the agreement will play out in 20, 30, 50 years into the future. So they are drafted very carefully. One never rushes to do an FTA. One should do it with great care and consideration of different interests,” Goyal told news agency ANI. 


He said both sides were looking at issues that are of a very sensitive nature as well as very important to each other. “We hope that in the coming weeks we will be able to come to some conclusion,” he said


The minister said both sides had several rounds of negotiations, and 20 of 26 chapters had been sealed. “Currently, we are in active dialogue on different tracks. Amongst the few issues pending, there is nothing impossible to navigate,” he said.


On Wednesday, Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal told reporters that they were not working under any deadlines on the conclusion of negotiations on the FTA, citing there are issues that are slightly complex in nature and of economic significance to both countries.


“We are not working under any deadlines. Though, there are internal timelines as such, and round-wise discussions happen there,” Barthwal had said, adding that issues were being examined carefully in a roundwise manner and they were expected to finish soon.


Till now, 13 rounds of negotiations have concluded on the issue, and chief negotiators of India and the UK are expected to soon hold the next round of talks to iron out remaining issues, including concessions for electric vehicles (EVs) and greater market access in services, among others.


Launched in January last year, the agreement was originally scheduled to conclude by Diwali (October 24, 2022), but the deadline was missed due to several adverse developments.


On his visit to the Tesla factory in San Francisco earlier this week, Goyal said no decision had been taken on when Tesla would come to India and what role it would have in India’s private sector engagement on space.


“Those are for officials to look at. The purpose of my visit was very clear. I was looking at engaging with the high-quality senior-level Indian talent who are contributing to Tesla’s success story. I was also very keen to see the EV factory because we are now increasingly contributing through parts and components in the making of EVs,” he had said.


“Last year, India exported about a billion dollars’ worth of goods. This year, it will almost double to $1.9 billion exports from India to Tesla. India is producing really high-quality products, spare parts, auto components, which I am sure will help us as we expand our electric auto ecosystem,” he added.


Goyal said as more and more companies from around the world come into India and as the homegrown Tatas and Mahindras expand their operations, India is poised to become a big market and big producer of EVs. “The idea behind the visit (to the Tesla factory) was to understand the story and see how it is going to move forward,” he said.

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