India and US can do a larger trade deal much faster, says Piyush Goyal

India and the US can do a larger trade deal much faster, Commerce and Industry Minister said on Tuesday.

“I am delighted that both the leaders (Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump) have decided to formally engage to move towards a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two big economies and my own sense is that America also will gain very significantly with this partnership,” said Goyal.

The minister said he didn’t see this engagement to be like earlier free trade negotiations that go on for decades. Modi and Trump on Tuesday held delegation-level talks on key issues such as trade and energy cooperation.

The minister was speaking at an event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the US-India Business Council (USIBC) on “The India-US business story: Opportunity, innovation, entrepreneurship”. The two industry bodies also released a report on “$500-billion road map: US-India bilateral partnership: Aiming high”.

“An FTA between India and the US would have wide-ranging ramifications for the domestic industries, and a clear cost benefit analysis would be needed to gauge its total impact,” said the report.

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Goyal assured the gathering that the discussions on an FTA “will see a similar kind of stakeholder consultation as you saw in the last year or so with different industry groups, different interest groups, on market access or opening up services, investment protocols, on areas of mutual interest…We’ll be engaging with industry and all stakeholders on both sides…I can assure you, whatever is done, will be done in the interest of both”.

He said the two sides would hopefully close the first set of the limited engagement, which has been discussed and finalised. “We will get into legal vetting and close that quickly,” he said.

When asked about foreign investor sentiment in India not being too positive, Goyal said people were “welcome” to invest in India “but not at the cost of our pride”.

“I don’t think anybody invests in a country out of charity. A person will invest in a country for its opportunity, India offers that opportunity. I am the last fellow to say that we need your money therefore you come here,” he said.