Commerce Minister Goyal faces crucial negotiations on RCEP, trade deal with US

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on May 31, 2019 Published on May 31, 2019

Piyush Goyal has assumed leadership at a time when the country is in the midst of crucial negotiations with members of one of the largest proposed trading blocs that includes China and the ASEAN.

Over the last few months, the Commerce Ministry has also been trying to reach a trade agreement with the US which is miffed with India for the existing trade imbalance.

“The Commerce & Industry Minister has asked senior officials including the two Secretaries to brief him on priority issues,” a government official told BusinessLine.

Goyal said that he will take guidance from former Commerce & Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu who has not been given charge of any Ministry or Department in the new government.

“I was just discussing with him (Prabhu) the subject and the challenges in the Ministry. I will look to him for guidance and support,” Goyal said.

The task immediately ahead of Goyal will be to reach a limited trade pact with the US to try and stop it from withdrawing the GSP scheme which allows duty free access to over 3,000 goods from India into the American market.

The US wants India to roll back the 20 per cent import duties imposed on smart phones and also remove price caps on medical devices. It is also unhappy with changes brought about in the e-commerce policy, including a ban on foreign players to hold equity in companies whose products they sell. In the on-going negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), India has to decide whether it could afford to give zero-duty access to a host of Chinese goods or if it is better to opt out of the pact.

Published on May 31, 2019
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