NEW DELHI: The commerce and industry ministry is trying to prepare a roadmap and a scoping paper to quickly start review of respective free trade agreements with Japan and Asean, Union minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday.
The commerce and industry minister said that review of a free trade pact with Korea is underway.
“With Japan and other Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries, we are trying to prepare the roadmap and scoping paper so that we can start the reviews quickly,” he told reporters here.
When asked about the proposed mini trade deal with the US, Goyal said “we have” to wait for the new USTR (United States Trade Representative) to come in and they have to hear from the new administration about the deal.
“We also have certain thoughts about it. It’s only after we engaged with the new US administration, that we can comment on that,” he said.
The two countries are negotiating a trade package to iron out certain issues and promote two-way commerce.
“We believe that India has comparative advantages to look at greater engagement with developed countries like the US, the UK and the EU. The US just had a change in the administration and we are waiting for the new USTR to be confirmed.
“Once the new USTR is in office, we will start a dialogue with them to look at how we can expand our business and international engagement with them both on market access, and tariffs…,” he added.
About a proposal submitted by India and South Africa for relaxing certain provisions in intellectual property (IP) agreement of the WTO (World Trade Organisation) with a view to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, the minister said about 100 countries have already supported the proposal and there is some resistance from the developed world.
“We are working along with other countries to try and come to a common position,” he said.
India and South Africa have submitted a proposal suggesting a waiver for all WTO members on the implementation, application and enforcement of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of Covid-19.
The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPS Agreement came into effect in January 1995. It is a multilateral agreement on intellectual property rights such as copyright, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets.
The minister also hoped that the WTO would quickly put in place the appellate body of the dispute settlement system and the benefits of S&DT (special and differential treatment) will continue for perpetuity or for a longer period of time.
The S&DT allows developing countries to enjoy certain benefits including taking longer time periods for implementing agreements and binding commitments, and measures to increase trading opportunities for them.
He hoped that various negotiations that are going on a plurilateral basis move to multi-lateral negotiations such as on e-commerce.
About the ongoing talks on fishery subsidy, Goyal said these subsidies should be based on “polluter pays” principle so that developing world like India has a policy space and “we can continue to give support at least proportional to the support that the developed world is giving, for a significant period of time”.
On the country’s exports, he expressed hope that economic activities in the developed world will pick up quickly and the country will continue to record positive growth in exports.
He added that the ministry is planning to roll out the next foreign trade policy on April 1.
On FDI, he said there are no plans to relax norms in the multi-brand retail sector.