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Will put together fresh India-US trade package but need ‘greater flexibilities’ — Piyush Goyal

Commerce and Industry Minister Goyal said the old US-India trade package is now 'off the table', and that the US needs to see the 'big picture'.

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New Delhi: Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal has said he will discuss with new US Trade Representative Katherine Tai a “fresh” trade package even as the older pact is now “off the table”.

Goyal, who was addressing a session, ‘The State of US-India Business’, organised by the US-India Business Council (USIBC) under the US Chamber of Commerce, also said Wednesday both the US and India will now have to look at “fresh and different ideas” to take the trade relationship to the next level.

“I will also engage with the new USTR to put together a fresh package. I think the old one is now off the table. We’ll all have to look at fresh and different ideas and see how our engagement in the future can course-correct some of the problems that we’ve seen in the past and prepare both the countries to meet the needs of our people,” Goyal said.

He said New Delhi is also looking forward to “rekindle” the bilateral dialogue mechanisms between both countries such as the Trade Policy Forum and the commercial dialogue under the Joe Biden administration.

Under former US President Donald Trump, the trade dialogues did not take place as scheduled while efforts to hammer out a mini-trade package never fructified.

“Last time around when we were discussing (a mini trade deal), we were nit-picking with very very small issues and changing the goalpost in every subsequent conversation. I do hope this time around we can look at the big picture while of course some of the issues which we were able to resolve can still be brought on the table,” Goyal said, addressing the US-based companies virtually.

He added: “But I do think that we have to look beyond that. We have to sort out some of the issue which are much more relevant to a larger engagement and leave some of the small things which earlier were kind of deal-breakers and therefore lot of political bandwidth was going in very small issues … We complement each other, we are not in competition with each other.”

‘Greater degree of flexibility needed’

To have a smaller trade package followed by a larger trade agreement between both countries, Goyal said, both sides need to show “greater degree of flexibilities”.

“We look forward to working very closely with the new (US) administration to strengthen our ever-expanding of ties in a variety of areas. We’ve worked with both the Republicans as well as Democratic administrations particularly over the last two decades and established a very strong and multifaceted relationship,” he stressed.

Goyal said both New Delhi and Washington will have to have “an open mind and open heart understanding each other’s imperatives and sensitivities”.

He also said two-way trade in goods and services have suffered a “setback” in the past couple of years.

“Trade between India and US have grown exponentially but still leave a lot to be desired. I thought a very modest target of half a trillion dollars but we have had a setback over a couple of years,” he said.

The minister also said the US will have to be very sensitive to price points in India, which matter to emerging economies.

Also read: India-US defence & security ties stronger than ever, says Ambassador Sandhu


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