Updated: November 27, 2021 8:09:11 am
Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said that “a free trade deal” is not the only way forward to boosting trade with the United States, noting that the current US administration was not inclined towards entering into new FTAs. Earlier this week, Goyal concluded a meeting of the Trade Policy Forum With US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai, with India and the US agreeing to settle a large number outstanding issues over the next twelve months.
“Katherine and I discussed this issue at length. President (Joe) Biden, as a policy, believes that the free trade agreements (FTAs) that the US has entered into over the years have really not significantly helped or yielded any results,” Goyal said at the Republic India Economic Summit on Friday. He added that the government was aiming for bilateral goods and services trade of $500 billion with the US over the next 7-8 years, noting that Tai had agreed that there were “many more ways to revitalise (India-US) trade.”
Goyal noted that the US market was “pretty much open” for Indian exporters and if anything, there were concerns about the Indian market which he had addressed in discussions with the USTR.
Setting the stage for discussions at the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Twelfth Ministerial Conference to be held in Geneva next week, Goyal said that agreements that earlier governments has entered into had hampered the competitiveness of Indian farmers.
He said Indian farmers were “suffering till today” because the India’s interests being compromised at the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) concluded in 1993 and that the agreement meant that the government was not able to give farmers the support it would like to.
“… if we were not having the WTO compulsions of the Uruguay round, which was signed off by the Congress government, I don’t think the foreign countries in the developed world could have given billions of dollars of support to their already rich farmers,” the Commerce Minister said.
Experts have noted that the levels of subsidies that developed countries such as the US are able to give to their farmers under the Uruguay agreement are distorting the global market for agricultural goods to the detriment of farmers in developing countries such as India.
WTO member countries had agreed to cut domestic support to agriculture in the Uruguay round, with developed countries agreeing to reduce these figures by 20 per cent over six years starting in 1995 and developing countries agreeing to make 13 per cent cuts over 10 years.
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