New Delhi: Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said Friday that talks between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) about a free trade pact are at an advanced stage and New Delhi is looking to establish a trade market in Dubai specifically for Indian products.
Speaking at the FICCI Annual Convention and the 94th Annual General Meeting in New Delhi, Goyal said: “We’re working to see whether we can have a large ‘India Mart’ in Dubai where a huge number of stores can come up to display Indian products. A huge amount of warehousing can be picked up at affordable prices here and it can become a base to spread our wings all across the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world.”
Trade negotiations between India and the UAE are currently at an advanced stage. The two partners are expected to wrap up a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) by January 2022.
A CEPA is a broader, more advanced form of a free trade agreement. If inked, it would be the first FTA to be signed by India in over a decade.
Export goal ‘a reality’
Goyal further said India is looking to duplicate its Dubai Expo pavilion at Pragati Maidan in Delhi.
“I’m hoping to duplicate that experiment [the India Pavilion at Dubai Expo] at Pragati Maidan. We’ll have a permanent location that becomes a matter of pride for any Indian — and the footfall at Pragati Maidan is huge,” he said.
The Indian government’s goal of $400 billion in merchandise exports in this fiscal year, said Goyal, “looks to be a reality”.
According to analysts, India is on track to touch the $400 billion goal and the record-high rise in exports from April-October was a result of a sharp recovery from low baseline levels during the pandemic as well as high commodity prices across the world.
India making headway with other FTAs
At the event, Goyal also said other free trade agreements that are in the pipeline, such as with Australia, the UK, Canada, Israel and European Union (EU), are making headway.
“Our discussion with Australia is at an advanced stage. [Talks with] the UK will be launched possibly next month. Canada we may launch around March or April. The EU talks have already been launched — we’ll start getting down to the drawing board now. Israel also,” he said, adding that Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries too are approaching India for negotiations.
India and Australia are expected to finalise an interim free trade agreement by Christmas this year.
“The commerce ministry has been working on almost six FTAs and maybe one or two may get added in the next few days,” added Goyal.
(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)