Trade Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said India and the United Kingdom (UK) will be able to resolve the pending issues for a free trade agreement (FTA) in the coming weeks, as the remaining issues are 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. Both sides are looking at issues which are of a very sensitive nature to each other and also very important to each other. We hope that in the coming weeks we will be able to come to some conclusion,’ Goyal told news agency ANI.
Goyal said both sides had several rounds of negotiations, and 20 out of 26 chapters have been sealed. ‘Currently, we are in active dialogue on different tracks. Amongst the few issues pending, there is nothing impossible to navigate,’ he added.
On Wednesday, Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal told reporters that they are not working under any deadlines on the conclusion of negotiations on the FTA, as there are issues which 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 roundwise discussions happen there,’ the Commerce Secretary said, adding that issues are being examined carefully in a roundwise manner and they are 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 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.
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 electric vehicle factory because we are now increasingly contributing through parts and components in the making of electric vehicles.
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 electric vehicles. ‘The idea behind the visit (to the Tesla factory) was to understand the story and see how it is going to move forward,’ he added.