India is open to negotiate an initial early harvest agreement with the UK, ahead of a full fledged free trade pact between the two countries, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday said.
India stands committed for a greater engagement with the UK as huge potential exists between the two countries to expand bilateral trade, he added.
Goyal said that India can engage with the UK in sectors like pharma, textiles, leather, industrial machinery, furniture, and toys.
India is also looking to the UK to support it with technology based products such as high quality cameras, medical devices, automobile, "may be spirits (as) India is considered one of the largest consumers of scotch whisky, which is always been an area of interest for the UK", he noted.
"The choice is of the UK, I am open to have my officers sit down and talk to the officers of in the UK morning to evening and give them a 15-30 days window not to get out of that room till they finalise at least an initial early harvest before we can look at a longer term PTA (preferential trade agreement). Free trade agreement should be our goal, but we can do a PTA in an immediate future," he said at Indian Global Week 2020.
Ministers and officers from both the sides can sit down across video conferencing and come to terms at least for first 25-30 items that are of mutual interest, the minister added.
"I have an open mind. I am coming to the negotiations with no preconceived notions, no red lines. I am offering to the UK an early harvest PTA ...if the UK is willing to correspondingly come forward with that openness, I am willing to start talking from Monday morning 9 am," he said.
He also said that they are talking to European Union for the long stalled FTA.
"I am similarly open with the EU. While we discuss a longer term FTA, (we can) look at an early harvest PTA. I am keen that we should progress for talks. We are willing to discuss with an open mind on a variety of subjects.. Well it's up to the EU and the UK," he added.
In a PTA, two trading partners significantly reduce or eliminate import duties on a certain number of goods. In FTA, the partners do the same for maximum number of goods besides relaxing norms to promote trade in services.