India open to importing more Scotch whisky as part of proposed India-UK trade agreement: Goyal

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 15, 2020

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal   -  PTI

Offering concessions for whisky could result in greater market access for Indian farm products, dairy, textiles, fishery, gems and jewellery

India has proposed a preferential trade agreement (PTA), like an early harvest package, to the UK, with concessions for 40-50 items from both sides, possibly including Scotch whisky, that could subsequently take the form of a free-trade agreement (FTA), Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has said.

“India is committed to a FTA with the UK and I feel it will be good for both Commonwealth countries. I have also strongly urged that while FTA, being comprehensive in nature, normally takes a good amount of time to sort out issues on table, it may be a good idea to pick up about 40-50 items, from both sides, and look at a preferential trade agreement like an early harvest so that we can demonstrate to the world the sincerity and seriousness of India-UK partnership and engagement,” Goyal said at a CII-UK Conference on Tuesday.

The Minister was referring to a recent discussion with the UK government on how to take bilateral relations ahead through joint work over the next few months following its exit from the European Union.

Goyal said that following his suggestion to the UK about an early harvest package, it was initially concerned about its compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. However, India got the matter examined thoroughly and was sure that the move would be fully compliant.

In what could bring cheer to whisky drinkers, the Minister said that he was open to discussing with the UK the import of Scotch to India in larger measure. “My intention was that, there is a lot of spurious liquor that comes in the name of Scotch. I was hoping that we can put an end to spurious liquor and get genuine material for those who can afford it and want it.”

Goyal added that in the bargain, the offer could create a lot of opportunities for Indian MSMEs, farmers, dairies, fishermen, handicrafts, textiles, and gems and jewellery, which are areas where the UK is a net importer and where India has a comparative advantage.

Interestingly, India has been negotiating an FTA with the EU since 2007, but talks are stuck over key issues such as market access for automobiles, wines and spirits, insurance, retail, and inclusion of non-trade areas such as environment and labour.

Published on September 15, 2020

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