Commerce minister Piyush Goyal proposes ‘preferential trade agreement’ with the US

Commerce minister Piyush Goyal proposes ‘preferential trade agreement’ with the US

Commerce minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday proposed a “preferential trade agreement” with the US covering a limited number of goods and services as the next step after the signing of a “quick” trade deal that was just a few phone “calls” away and before the conclusion of a more ambitious Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that could take years.

India and the United States have been working on a limited trade deal to expressly address the more urgent issues of concern to both sides and have said they planned to start negotiations on a broader Free Trade Agreement (FTA) later in the year, either before or after US elections in November.

“Another couple of calls and we should be able to sort that out,” the minister said of the deal currently under negotiations. He was participating virtually an annual summit of the US-India Business Council (USIBC, a trade body), which was to take place in New Delhi but was being held virtually in view of the Covid-19 epidemic.

But as the two countries worked towards a “much more sustainable, much more robust and much more enduring” partnership in the form of an FTA, which may take years to conclude, the two sides “should also look at early harvest in the form of a preferential trade agreement”, Goyal said.

It could include “may be 50, may be 100 products and services” where the two sides could engage with “mutual trust and open spirit” to “kickstart” the trade partnership, the minister added.

No other details were available of this interim trade pact. But people familiar with trade talks between the two sides, which have been on a long time but with renewed urgency for the last one year, said the idea is

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