Union commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal has said that India is no longer signing free trade agreements (FTAs) just to join a group. Speaking at an event organised by the Merchants' Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Friday, Goyal said that India instead looks at reciprocal access, good market conditions, and fair play in trade in both goods and services.
"We are looking at robust FTAs with like-minded nations with values of democracy, transparency and mutual growth," the minister said.
He added that FTA is a two-way traffic and industry should inculcate a greater appetite for risk taking as these pacts cannot give one-sided access for Indian goods and services alone.
"Our focus is wherever we have comparative or competitive advantage, we should look at market access and wherever the advantage is with some other country, we don't have to force the Indian consumer to buy expensive," the minister said.
Goyal, who is also the textiles minister, said India is trying to get zero-duty exports to the UK for the textiles sector and also discussing the same with the European Union.
India has launched negotiations for such pacts with the UAE, the UK, the European Union (EU), Australia, Canada, Israel and a group of countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
In December 2021, the commerce ministry had said that the negotiations between India and the UAE were at an advanced stage and the two partners were expected to wrap up a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement by January this year.
On 12 October, Hindustan Times reported about the government's aggressive timelines for trade agreements with at least three countries - the UAE, the UK and Australia - by 2022 as part of its ambitious target of $500 billion exports by FY23.
Under FTAs, two trading partners significantly reduce or eliminate import/customs duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them, besides easing norms to promote trade in services.